Ezri Konsa stakes claim for England as Steve Holland watches - Three things learned in Aston Villa draw v Brentford
Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz struck late at Brentford on Saturday [22 April] to cancel out Ivan Toney’s opener and preserve their impressive unbeaten run under Unai Emery’s management.
Villa have not lost a league game since 18 February, swiftly going from the bottom half of the Premier League to contention for European qualification after being significantly transformed under Emery’s guidance.
However, it was an average and drab performance from the Villans as they struggled to match Brentford’s intensity throughout the whole game, and their unbeaten run was under threat when Toney pounced on Ashley Young’s error at the far post.
Brentford were made to pay the price for taking their foot off the gas pedal as Villa’s Brazilian hero Luiz seized on a loose ball in the box to fire past David Raya and earn his side a much-needed point.
Here are three things we learned from the draw at the Gtech Community Stadium.
Martinez’s injury blow will worry Emery
Aston Villa were unbelievably average against Brentford on Saturday [22 April], especially after their tremendous performance against Newcastle United last weekend and such a showing will have certainly given Emery some serious food for thought at how the performance levels of his players significantly dropped.
However, the result could have been much worse had it not been for the heroics of Martinez who proved the star of the show until he was worryingly taken off at half-time. Aston Villa boss Emery confirmed the Argentinian was suffering from stomach cramps after a dodgy meal but after Injuy expert Ben Dinnery’s latest update, it is unclear as to when Martinez will return.
With the Villans looking likely of claiming an unprecedented European spot, Emery will be desperate to get his star goalkeeper back in fine fettle. Against Brentford, Martinez showed just how good he is despite having a dodgy stomach, denying both Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo at crucial moments and even sprinting off his line at one point to deny a goalscoring opportunity.
In his 45 minutes on the pitch, the Argentinian registered two saves, one high claim, one successful run-outs and completed six of his long balls as per SofaScore. The 30-year-old’s endeavour, personality and leadership have been crucial to Villa’s ten clean sheets this season and they’ll need more of them if they’re to secure a European place for next season.
Ezri Konsa impresses the onlooking Steve Holland
England assistant coach Steve Holland was present at the Gtech Community Stadium to run the rule over the likes of Ivan Toney and the in-form Ollie Watkins, who now certainly deserves his spot in the next England squad after his scintillating form, but Holland will have been impressed by a player yet to be given his opportunity under Gareth Southgate.
And that is Emery’s trusted central defensive stalwart Ezri Konsa who once again proved how pivotal he is to Aston Villa despite their average performance.
Brentford certainly threw a lot of punches at Villa but Emery will have hand Konsa to thank as he withstood much of the Bees pressure to give the Villans a much-needed point.
The 25-year-old was superb once again, using his might, strength and defensive presence to keep the likes of Ivan Toney at bay. If it wasn’t for Ashley Young’s error for the Bees opener, Villa could have been staring at another clean sheet.
Konsa won 100% of his aerial duels, won 3 out of his four total duels, recorded two clearances and successfully completed 47 of his 53 passes at a rate of 89% [SofaScore]. His partnership with Tyrone Mings is the foundation at which Aston Villa is undergoing this stunning upward trajectory.
Douglas Luiz is undroppable
How reliant are Aston Villa on Douglas Luiz keeping things ticking over in midfield? Heavily.
Not only did he score the crucial equaliser, being at the right place at the right time to convert Emi Buendia’s pass but the Brazilian international picked up the third-best SofaScore rating (7.6/10) of any player to start the match and the best of any Aston Villa performer.
As per SofaScore, it was another strong and dominant performance at the heart of the Aston Villa midfield, especially in the absence of Boubacar Kamara.
He recorded 69 touches, successfully completed 42 of his 50 passes at a rate of 84%, completed three of his four crosses, registered one key pass as well as scoring his fifth goal in all competitions this season. In this kind of form, the former Manchester City star is proving absolutely undroppable.
In other Aston Villa news, we can exclusively reveal that Manchester United are set to sign this highly-rated Villa player.