Aston Villa topped off a great week on the pitch with their third win in 7 days as they beat newly promoted Burnley 1-3 at Turf Moor.
Villa had failed to pick up a win in their previous five outings on the road in the Premier League but Unai Emery was determined to change that statistic.
The Basque manager made one unforced change from the 0-5 win over Hibernian on Wednesday night with Matty Cash replacing Leon Bailey, which proved to be a genius decision.
Cash commented on how the manager predicted virtually everything that would happen in the game which helped Villa to control a Burnley side who had looked decent against the Champions Manchester City two weeks ago.
Villa are becoming like a well-oiled machine. Regardless of the system and what player comes into the team, everyone knows their roles. Villa can be slow and patient when building up from the back but electric when the ball finds the front three.
I have often watched other sides dominate and play good football, wondering why Villa couldn’t do the same. Unai Emery entered the club and this has changed. We are now a joy to watch!
Match Report: Burnley 1-3 Aston Villa
It took the visitors just eight minutes to take the lead through Cash, who was playing a more advanced role than we have become accustomed to seeing him play.
John McGinn found Ollie Watkins with a lofted-through ball, the forward crossed the ball across the goalmouth for a sliding in Cash who poked the ball home.
Twelve minutes later Villa doubled their lead. Cash got onto the end of a Watkins pass, and cut inside to find Moussa Diaby, who returned the ball inside to Cash and fired past James Trafford.
Villa were on top as Burnley were outclassed, particularly in the opening 45 minutes and came close again late in the move, again through Cash who watched on as his volley was blocked and then Watkins was denied by Trafford with a chance the striker would have expected to score.
The home side introduced Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson at the break and they were quick out the blocks to the surprise of Villa. The substitute was involved when he headed down the ball in the box for Lyle Foster who was able to turn Pau Torres and fire past Robin Olsen in the Villa goal.
Burnley continued to pile on the pressure for the first time in the game as Villa looked at sixes and sevens.
But Villa are a different team these days and in the past, it was the kind of game we would have probably thrown away. It wasn’t to be though and Villa coped with the pressure before restoring their two-goal lead on the counter-attack.
McGinn was able to shrug off Ameen Al-Dakhil and play a through ball for Lucas Digne. The full-back pulled the ball back for Diaby who slotted home from the edge of the area.
Watkins could have made it four with 20 minutes to play but once again he was denied by Trafford.
Nicolò Zaniolo made his first appearance for Villa from the bench, replacing Diaby and very nearly scored when he broke free but his shot went wide when he probably should have squared for Watkins.
Villa have now made it three wins from three following their opening day embarrassing defeat to Newcastle!
What the managers said
“He’s [Cash] versatile, he played before as a winger, he’s playing with us in a back four sometimes, sometimes lower, but we used him in pre-season playing higher, as a winger.
“He helped us a lot today defensively and offensively and then he used the moment to remember when he played more at Nottingham Forest as a winger. His two goals were a good example for us but we know he can be versatile.”
“Learning comes at a price in the Premier League. I didn’t think we started the game badly, we had moments, we just didn’t manage to get a real grip on the game and there was always the threat of Aston Villa counters.
“In the second half we built momentum, the goal helped us for that definitely, and just at the peak of that momentum we conceded the goal and that was a little bit the story of the game.”
As I previously mentioned, it’s a joy to watch Aston Villa right now but they will face tougher tests than those they have come up against over the past seven days.
We are very well drilled and you just know, despite how impressive Villa were yesterday, the manager won’t have been happy at how we started the second half and conceded. He is a perfectionist!
Aston Villa will welcome Hibernian to Villa Park on Thursday night for the second leg of their Europa Conference League play-off and then a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool next weekend awaits them.
Burnley are in action in midweek also but in the League Cup against Nottingham Forest. They will return to Premier League action next weekend against Tottenham Hotspur.