By Anthony Onifade

12th Nov, 2023 | 2:47pm

Youri Tielemans justifies Unai Emery decision with first-half Aston Villa masterclass v Fulham

It was a half to remember for Aston Villa midfielder Youri Tielemans as he justified Unai Emery’s decision to start him against Fulham on Sunday (12 November) with a midfield masterclass.

The Villans were looking to return to winning ways after their 2-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest last weekend and completely took apart Fulham with a stunning first-half display.

Villa as expected started the game on the front foot with some excellent one-touch football and thought they’d found themselves ahead when Moussa Diaby was found free in the penalty area by Lucas Digne but his shot was parried away by Bernd Leno.

The home side were then denied a penalty by VAR after referee Simon Hooper had pointed to the spot after a Timothy Castagne handball but the ball appeared to hit his face.

Fulham could have taken the lead themselves inside 20 minutes when Timothy Castagne was played in behind Lucas Digne and his cross was making its way towards Raul Jimenez to tap in but for an exceptional clearance from Ezri Konsa.

But, Aston Villa took the lead on 27 minutes when Tielemans made a superb run on the left-flank before delivering a dangerous cross which Fulham full-back Antonee Robinson failed to deal with and inadvertently put in his own net.

John McGin grabbed the second with a stunning and incisive finish in the bottom corner a few minutes before half-time.

The Belgian was a surprise starter for the game with Emery making the decision to drop the struggling Nicolo Zaniolo and his selection call has certainly proven a masterstroke at half-time with Tielemans proving why he is worth every penny Aston Villa is paying him in wages.

Tielemans was brilliant in both areas of the pitch, deployed in a strange wide role on the left in Emery’s box midfield and proved his industry out of possession as well as his class on it winning 100% of his ground duels.

While he may not have been as successful with his passing, recording a 64% pass success rate, he still created one big chance, registered one key pass and also completed 100% of his crosses, one which led to the own goal.

The former Leicester City man is now certainly showing that he is worthy of consistent starts in the near future.

In other Aston Villa news, a senior man may have quit before he was pushed out of Villa Park by Monchi.