Dean Smith’s £90m luxury as Villa signal their intent for Man United

Crash, bang, wallop – Aston Villa’s season appears to have bolted into life with Matty Cash, Leon Bailey and Dean Smith’s tight-knit squad blowing the roof off Villa Park last night.

It was nine minutes of pure heaven as Villa simply blitzed Everton from minute 66 to 75 as Bailey hammered home to put a nice gloss on the scoreline.

BirminghamLive’s Ashley Preece was in the press box in B6 last night and here are his talking points as Villa look ahead to Chelsea in the Carabao Cup in midweek.


“We want to be challenging the likes of Chelsea, Everton, Manchester United next week and you have to have a good squad to do that and a good bench to change it as well,” purred Smith in his post-match as he relishes taking Villa to new heights this season.

The boss, as he instructed last week at Chelsea, told his players to take the handbrake off and to go for it against the Toffees as he informed BirminghamLive how he wanted Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa to step out from the back more and to squeeze Villa deep into Everton’s half.

There was no surprise then that Konsa started the move which led to Cash’s opener as he played the ball into Danny Ings who turned, passed to Douglas Luiz and, first time, Cash was in before striking home and true into the back of the net for his first in a Villa shirt.

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Villa were brave when they needed to be and that looks to be the mantra moving forward this season. I said it last week and I’ll say it again, Villa are going to be an exciting side to watch this season now they’ve got their near fully-fit squad to choose from. Smith just wants his players to force the issue.

The boss also said as much when he praised Bailey, adding: “He gets bums off seats and that’s what supporters at this club want to see.”

After all, boyhood Villan Smith knows what Villa fans crave and that’s a side that goes out on the front foot and long may that continue.


Leon Bailey of Aston Villa is embraced by as he is substituted off after picking up an injury during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Everton at Villa Park
Leon Bailey of Aston Villa is embraced by as he is substituted off after picking up an injury during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Everton at Villa Park

To Smith’s squad and, for the first time this season, the head coach has had more options than he’s ever had and, probably, since he first joined three years ago.

Villa were blessed with around £90million-worth of talent on their bench last night while £14million man Morgan Sanson was simply left out of the 20-man squad all together as the Frenchman did fitness work on the pitch after full-time.

Everton, in stark contrast, could only name eight subs as opposed to nine.

Villa’s squad is so much stronger now while the likes of Bailey, Marvelous Nakamba, Ashley Young and Bertrand Traore all played their part from off the bench. Jacob Ramsey also put in another confident showing as the 20-year-old’s value rockets by the week. Club-record buy Emiliano Buendia wasn’t even needed against Everton which tells you all you need to know about Villa’s strength in depth currently.


Staying with the squad and it was a real shift from two players who didn’t get the praise their work deserved last night and that’s Ings and Ollie Watkins.

The pair are still working on their understanding which was evident when Ings expected a return pass from Watkins that didn’t come.

Watkins ran Yerry Mina and Michael Keane ragged all night and made them work from minute one. As for Ings, he dropped into the pocket and stopped Allan from playing while he won his fair share of duels as he won the ball back for those in claret and blue.

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Ings’ assist for Bailey’s strike was sublime as he controlled Cash’s throw-in before spanking a through-ball with the outside of his right boot as if to say, ‘Go on then, Leon, it’s all yours!’.

Ings and Watkins will get their rewards sooner rather than later – that’s despite the latter still waiting to get off the mark this season.

Ings and Watkins – who registered just one shot between them against Everton – epitomised last night’s team shift with the pair really setting the tone with their incessant pressing.


Leon Bailey of Aston Villa celebrates after scoring their team's third goal during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Everton
Leon Bailey of Aston Villa celebrates after scoring their team’s third goal during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Everton

Smith was asked if star of the show Bailey was signed to fill Jack Grealish’s boots last night, but the boss hit back and said: “No, Jack Grealish’s boots are too big to fill because he’s a unique player.”

Bailey, though, is two years younger than Villa’s former captain and, in his 85 minutes in a Villa shirt, he’s assisted (1) and scored (1) the exact same amount as Grealish has for City in his 435 minutes.

Villa have a serious player on their hands here. Fans witnessed it after just 10 minutes at Watford while, at Chelsea last week, Bailey’s electric feet and razor-sharp control was there for all to see. Bailey turned the game on its head last night, assisting within nine minutes after coming on before unleashing hellfire to smack home his first Premier League goal.

The £30million looks to be a snip even at this early stage of his Villa career. Bailey’s just born for the big stage and Smith could well go back on those comments he made referencing Grealish’s boots being too big to fill. The Jamaican’s going to make a real statement at Villa Park, just you wait and see.

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And while we’re on the topic of Villa Park, there’s just no place like it when the goals fly in and the players put it all on the line to get three points.

It was bedlam in there as soon as Cash got the party started with Villa running riot. Homegrown hero Ramsey almost scored amidst the goal frenzy as Everton were knocked from pillar to post.

These evening games are becoming legendary now while there’s no surprise that there’s more than 18,000 fans on Villa’s waiting list for season tickets as the club prepare to expand its 42,000 capacity.

It was yet another spine-tingling atmosphere in that famous old stadium and there’s not many – if any – that rival it in the Premier League. It was pumping.

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