By Anthony Onifade

15th Apr, 2023 | 5:10pm

Leander Dendoncker impresses in rare Aston Villa start v Newcastle, he's earned Unai Emery's trust

Aston Villa continued their stunning upward trajectory under Unai Emery’s leadership, in a comfortable 3-0 win over Newcastle United at Villa Park on Saturday [15 April].

It’s now five wins on the bounce for the Villans as they solidified their position in the European spots and now have an outside shot at challenging for a Champions League place if they continue their superb form.

Two goals from Ollie Watkins – taking his impressive goalscoring run to 11 goals in 12 games – and a Jacob Ramsey strike ensured the Villans moved to within just six points of their opponents.

Aston Villa have now won five straight Premier League games for the first time since 1998 and also recorded their 12th win under the Spaniard in his 20th game for the West Midlands outfit.

There were certainly some impressive performances from every single Villa player, with the most notable showings coming from Watkins, Tyrone Mings and Alex Moreno but Emery will have been surprised by the performance of one of his bit-part stars, Leander Dendoncker.

It was the Belgian international’s first Villa start since November and he fitted in seamlessly alongside Douglas Luiz in the midfield in both Boubacar Kamara and Leon Bailey’s absences.

Dendoncker, who signed on a permanent deal from Wolverhampton Wanderers last September tremendous broke up play, instigated attacking moves and looked an assured presence when Emery needed him most.

In fact, the Belgian midfield anchor kept both Bruno Guimaraes and Joelinton in his back pocket all game as Aston Villa absolutely dominated the middle of the park.

As per SofaScore, Dendoncker picked up a solid average score of 7.2/10, but more impressively successfully completed 33 of his 34 passes amidst Newcastle pressure at a superb rate of 97%, whilst also winning eight of his nine total duels, and was only dribbled past once all game.

In such a rare start for the midfield star, he looked like a player that had been starting at the heart of the Aston Villa midfield all season and will have certainly earned the trust of Unai Emery moving forward.

A truly dominant and assured showing from the former Wolves man, giving the Spaniard plenty to think about ahead of their next Premier League encounter against Brentford [22 April].

In other Aston Villa news, we can exclusively reveal that Manchester United are set to sign this highly-rated Villa player.