By Anthony Onifade

3rd Oct, 2023 | 12:10pm

John McGinn proves undisputed role for Aston Villa after performance in 6-1 win v Brighton, he's impossible to axe

Aston Villa made it three Premier League wins in a row after a clinical display against Brighton on Saturday in a 6-1 win and it won’t just be Ollie Watkins grabbing all the headlines after his hat-trick.

Watkins scored his second hat-trick of the season as Aston Villa delivered a ruthless display to thrash the high-flying Seagulls on Saturday (30 September) – a win which took them to within three points off Manchester City at the league summit, now sitting in fifth.

The England international, who also scored three against Hibernian in Europa Conference League qualifying in August, is the first Villa player to net more than one hat-trick in a season since Andy Gray in 1976-77.

A Pervis Estupinan own-goal and late efforts from Jacob Ramsey and Douglas Luiz were the icing on the cake for Villa, who moved level on points with their opponents in the English top flight.

Watkins had certainly struggled for Premier League form just a couple of weeks ago, now in a matter of just a few games, he’s grabbed four goals in a sensational turnaround.

However, the England international wasn’t the only saving grace for Aston Villa on Saturday but Villa Park fan favourite John McGinn who has become impossible to drop even after some tough performances just following the September internationals.

Against Crystal Palace in Villa’s 3-1 triumph (16 September), McGinn was nowhere to be seen all game before being hooked off after 71 minutes.

Credit where credit’s due, McGinn earned himself one key pass, while his 87% pass completion showed he was dependable at maintaining possession, but this is the extent of his positive contribution [SofaScore].

McGinn failed to have any shots in the game, had a 44% ground duel success rate, made just a single tackle and attempted just two dribbles – one of which was successful. With just 0.06 xG, he was outclassed by his replacement Duran who scored a spectacular strike to justify Emery’s decision to bring him on for his tried and trusted midfield lieutenant.

In the 3-2 defeat to Legia Warsaw, he again cut a dejected and abject figure touching the ball just 20 times all game, recorded just the one key pass in his advanced midfield position, registered no shot at goal, completed just 40% of his total duels, recorded an expected goals total of 0.03 and didn’t contribute to any defensive work [SofaScore] as Aston Villa were easily swallowed up by Legia Warsaw all game.

Emery rarely benches McGinn who has always been a consistent and tireless performer for the Spaniard since his appointment in October, but the Spaniard could certainly have been tempted to do just that soon afterwards.

And while he struggled to improve in the 1-0 win over Chelsea, he was always going to be Emery’s undisputed midfield component because of his tireless work ethic, aggressing, midfield dynamism and most of all his undeniable character when things aren’t going his way.

That showed v Brighton as the Scottish international put in a performance for the ages but more crucially proved why Emery just cannot find it in his heart to drop him, even if he drops a clanger.

The 28-year-old is an all-purpose footballer, the player you field on rainy days and when you’re on a high note. Against Brighton, the Villains were on a high and McGinn proved just as crucial as Watkins’ goals.

As per SofaScore, the former Hibernian man successfully completed 100% of his dribbles, 100% of his long balls, won eight of his duels, and recorded three key passes including the stunning through ball for Matty Cash to assist Watkins’ first while also registering one big chance created.

Such is McGinn’s desire, character and mentality, he was always going to return to his best self again after a period of finding his feet again but against the Seagulls, he showed why he remains one of the first names on Emery’s teamsheet, even after the glamour summer signings they made.

Just that fact alone just tells all you and the Aston Villa fans all we need to know about just how special and pivotal McGinn is. Every team in the Premier League needs an all-action, well-rounded and all-purpose footballer like him.

In other Aston Villa news, an Aston Villa Women defender has been handed a club honour following the exit of one player.