Aston Villa finally picked up a clean sheet on the road following what turned out to be quite a comfortable 0-3 win over Fulham this evening at Craven Cottage.
Dean Smith changed the side that beat Bristol City in the Carabao Cup in midweek and returned to the same eleven that started the Sheffield United win last Monday. New signing Bertrand Traore had to settle for a place on the bench despite many betting guides suggesting he would start.
It is the first time Aston Villa have managed back-to-back wins in the Premier League since the 1999/00 campaign.
Villa quick out the blocks
Despite a bright minute or two for Fulham, Villa were quick out the blocks with a goal after just four minutes.
Scotland International John McGinn played a beautiful lofted through ball to pick out Jack Grealish who was able to slot past Alphonse Areola in the Fulham goal.
Villa continued to cause the Fulham backline problems who were all over the place as Trezeguet came close but was unable to get on the end of a cross from McGinn.
Despite Villa being in the lead, Matt Targett was also having trouble out on the left. As Sheffield United did, Fulham seemed to target the former Southampton left-back and it wasn’t long before the full-back had his name put in the book for a foul on Bobby Reid.
Villa did double their lead, however, on the quarter of an hour mark. It was a fantastic Villa attacking move. Ollie Watkins found Grealish who glided into the box, passed to McGinn whos first touch layoff allowed Conor Hourihane to double Villa’s lead.
Smith’s men probably should have gone in at half time with at least three goals ahead. First, Watkins was unable to get on the end of Trezeguet’s cross and then Watkins gets a header horribly wrong and sends it wide from a Hourihane cross.
Mings makes it three as its oh so easy!
Roy Keane spoke about Fulham’s poor defending before the game and you could see why he highlighted it as a weakness for Scott Parker’s men.
Dennis Odoi, who somehow finished this game despite a number of fouls, brought down Grealish. From the resulting free-kick, Tyrone Mings was able to get away from his man and make it 0-3 to Villa.
It was a weird feeling as the third goal went in. Scenes of joy but confusion, Villa were making it look so easy as Fulham’s defence continued to be none-existent.
A few minutes before the hour mark, Fulham had the ball in the net. Just as Villa felt they had a solution to their goalkeeper horrors, Emiliano Martínez spilt a shot from Aboubakar Kamara and Reid was the first to react for Fulham.
The goal was disallowed and probably rightly so. Referee, Stuart Attwell was advised by VAR to check his pitchside monitor which revealed that Alexander Mitrovic had fouled Ezri Konsa in the build-up.
Late on as the game fizzled out Smith handed Aston Villa Premier League debuts to both Traore and Jacob Ramsey.
Villa made it two wins from two with two clean sheets. Not a bad start to the season. They will have a completely different test on their hands next weekend though as Champions Liverpool come to Villa Park. First up though, is Stoke City in the Carabao Cup on Thursday night.