Aston Villa Away Won 3 – 4 (back by popular demand)
By demand, if not exactly popular demand, let me take you back to the London Saints match reports – just in time for Lockdown, Take Two. They say that the only thing worse than watching ‘live’ on TV is not watching closed door games on TV, and at least at The Buckingham Arms I can enjoy three excellent pints of Harvey’s Best and still get change out of £14.95, the PPV fee… although a fourth pint to celebrate another win does mess with the arithmetic. I hadn’t even completed track ‘n’ trace formalities before the ball was in the net at Villa Park, the actual ‘scorer’ being unclear (but probably wearing Claret) and eventually irrelevant as Adams’ arm was deemed to be offside; I’m all for VAR’s zero tolerance approach to marginal offsides as any allowed discretion will surely benefit the big six rather than the likes of Southampton, but sometimes you have to take the rough with the smooth. That early near-breakthrough was from a Ward-Prowse corner, and JWP free kicks were to put a gulf between Aston Villa and ourselves before half time. A cross from the right was perfect for the giant Vestergaard to head home (something he ought to do more often?), then two sublime direct strikes from the edge of the box beat Martínez, first to the keeper’s left and then an even better effort to his right. The third goal bought a yellow card for Cash that could easily have been red as he had handled to prevent the ball reaching Walcott, surprisingly preferred to Redmond for this game, and it was close to being a penalty as well; no matter as Prowsie probably fancies himself more from 20 yards than 12 on this form. Villa didn’t really throw the kitchen sink at Saints as the second half got underway but they threatened more once they’d forced McCarthy into his first save and it took a fine effort from our stopper to keep out a Grealish header. The game was nearly an hour old when Ings smacked in a fourth off the underside of the bar and although a Mings header meant the four goal cushion lasted only four minutes, we were more than comfortable as the game entered added time. By now Ings, with a worrying knee problem, and Bertrand had been forced off, allowing Diallo a debut, which he duly marked by conceding a late penalty converted by Watkins. Then in the seventh of an advertised six extra minutes, Grealish caught McCarthy wondering about which shower gel to use, giving the game an unexpectedly close scoreline of 3-4. At least it got it to the first slot on Match of the Day.
Man of the Match: Clearly James Ward-Prowse, but Vestergaard continued his good form at the back despite losing Bednarek to concussion.