By Villa News Speaking to Dan Bardell

3rd Apr, 2023 | 12:10pm

Sky Sports journalist: Ezri Konsa now 'integral' to Aston Villa with Steven Gerrard struggles left behind

We’re delighted to welcome Sky Sports and The Athletic’s Dan Bardell as our exclusive Aston Villa columnist each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at the club…

Dan Bardell believes Ezri Konsa is once again an integral cog in the works at Aston Villa after his struggles under former manager Steven Gerrard last season.

The English defender has been an immovable pillar in the heart of Unai Emery’s defence in recent months and, alongside Tyrone Mings, helped the club surge into the top half of the Premier League table.

Last weekend’s 2-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was Villa’s fourth clean sheet in their last five Premier League outings.

Although he looked a little uncomfortable with Emery’s requirements to pass out from the back, to begin with, Konsa has developed his game to become a successful ball-playing centre-half in recent times.

According to WhoScored, the 25-year-old only managed to record more than a 90% passing success rate in three of Gerrard’s ten Premier League games in charge this term before facing the sack, compared to the 12 out of 15 instances he has managed to surpass this number during Emery’s reign.

Speaking exclusively to Villa News, Sky Sports and The Athletic’s Bardell admitted that Konsa had taken giant strides under Emery and was beginning to replicate the form that made him an integral part of the team during the 2020/21 lockdown season.

“It has taken Ezri Konsa a little bit of time to adapt to Emery’s passing needs, but I think he is there now,” he said.

“Early on in the Bournemouth game before the international break, he played a pass through the lines that he probably wouldn’t have played under Steven Gerrard, and that was very impressive.

“I think Konsa is good enough on the ball for Emery, but he may just be less inclined to try things than Mings, a little less confident, but I think he is perfectly fine on the ball.

“I think Konsa and Mings have gone back to what made them good in that lockdown season now, where Villa kept a lot of clean sheets.

“Those two were integral to that season’s success and were very sturdy and resolute in front of Emi Martinez.

“And it feels like they have gone back to being integral for Aston Villa again.

“From where Konsa was at the backend of last season, I thought he was struggling. I thought he struggled again under Gerrard at the beginning of this season and maybe needed to be taken out of the starting XI for his own good, but Carlos got injured, and he was therefore needed.

‘But I think he back in form and in a far better place than he was this time last season.”

In other Aston Villa news, a first-team outcast may have saved his Villa career after mirroring a Manchester City star in the 2-0 win against Chelsea.