Sports

The JT influence, a defensive Villa eyes Europe

Dion Dublin

BIRMINGHAM. — Former Aston Villa striker, Dion Dublin, has praised the impact of John Terry in Villa’s 1-0 win over Arsenal on Saturday.

The Chelsea legend’s warm embrace of Zimbabwean enforcer, Marvelous Nakamba, after the match, told the story of how he was impressed by his team’s defensive effort.

Ollie Watkins’ goal after just 76 seconds gave Villa the early lead in the Premier League game, and it is a lead that they would hold onto to take all three points and complete the double over Mikel Arteta’s men this season.

The result moved Villa up to eighth place and in shooting distance of the Europa League positions.

On Match of the Day, Dublin spoke of his delight at both the result and performance, especially because he was watching the game alongside Arsenal legend Ian Wright.

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“I absolutely loved it in the office, let me tell you,” he said.

“I thought Villa were outstanding. They played some good stuff, started very well on the front foot. Arsenal had a lot of possession but they made silly mistakes where communication wasn’t there.

“When you get someone like (Betrand) Traore on the ball and he finds the centre-forward Watkins, he’s got to put it away. They were in a great position as they had the points in their hand and they had to keep hold of them.”

And the former striker alluded to assistant manager Terry’s influence in keeping their 11th clean sheet of the season.

“When you’re defending for your lives, trying to improve on last season and improve as a club, you have to be organised,” he added.

“You have to take on board information from people like John Terry, who has played in this position. He would have taken the four defenders in the afternoon and said “listen, this is what we do.”

“They did it time and time again and that’s what you need to do. Towards the end of the game, the two holding players Nakamba and McGinn helped the back four by getting into positions just in case anything dropped their way.

“They defended for their lives and they got over the line. The manager will be happy.’’ Following the match, the national British media gave their verdict on both the performance and result for Dean Smith’s men.

The Telegraph, Sam Wallace

“He (Smith) brought in Marvelous Nakamba in midfield and Bertrand Traore who was excellent especially in creating the goal for Watkins. The win took Villa to eighth and equalled their total points tally of 35 from last season with 17 games to spare.

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“Their winner arrived on 1 min 14 secs — after that mistake from Soares, and before Mat Ryan, making his Arsenal debut in goal, had even managed to lay a hand on the ball.

The Guardian, Nick Ames

“If nothing else, Arsenal will be happy to see the back of Aston Villa. This was their third defeat to Dean Smith’s side in a little over six months: while it was by some way their best performance in that collection, they found no way through and left the West Midlands empty-handed for the second time in four days.

“Villa did just about enough to merit the win and answer questions about their recent form. They have buccaneered their way through much of this season but had to knuckle down after Ollie Watkins’s winner, which came after only 75 seconds.

Daily Mail, Rob Draper

“When Watkins holds the ball up, invariably there is Ross Barkley, Jack Grealish and Traoré sprinting in to link up play. Outside of the big six, there aren’t many teams with more creative attacking forces.

“If their front four are a constant threat, Villa’s back four a redoubtable obstacle to opponents while John McGinn and Marvelous Nakamba are tireless in midfield. And Emiliano Martinez, allowed to leave Arsenal by Arteta, is a fine goalkeeper. His one-handed save, diving high to his left, from Xhaka’s free kick on 29 minutes was stunning. — Birmingham Mail.

HERALD