Aston Villa have won yet again to keep their dreams of European football alive. They have beaten Leicester City by two goals to one away from home to make it six unbeaten for them. They sit 7th in the table, two points behind Brighton in 6th. As for Leicester, their survival hopes are in a terrible place as another loss for them means they sit two points adrift in the bottom three.
Leicester City started their first game without Brendan Rodgers in a 4-3-3 shape. Daniel Iversen started in goal behind a back four of Timothy Castagne, Harry Souttar, Wout Faes and Victor Kristansen. Wilfred Ndidi started as the deepest midfielder behind Nampalys Mendy and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, captain James Maddison and Harvey Barnes were out wide either side of Jamie Vardy who started up front. Aston Villa made one change from the side that beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as the injured Boubacar Kamara was replaced by Leon Bailey. Emi Martinez started in goal behind a back four of Ashley Young, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings and Alex Moreno. John McGinn moved into a more central role following his man of the match performance at the weekend, he started in a double pivot alongside Douglas Luiz. Jacob Ramsey and Emi Buendia started out wide and Leon Bailey started as a second striker just behind Ollie Watkins who had netted in each of Villa’s last five away games, this his chance to make it six.
Story Of The Game Emi Buendia kicked off and we were underway at the King Power Stadium. Leicester started off the better side within the first ten minutes or so, a few half chances but nothing too major. Watkins picked up a knock on the fifteen minute mark and was in some pain before Harry Souttar pealed off round the far post from a corner and clipped the woodwork with a header. The first big chance of the game. Shortly after, Villa made the breakthrough with their first attempt through Ollie Watkins. Buendia threaded a fantastic ball through to Watkins who very neatly slotted it past Iversen, and after a VAR check for a possible offside, the goal was given and Villa were a goal to the good.
Villa continued to pile on pressure as Moreno fired wide and Luiz had one deflected over the bar, and Leicester were up against it. However, Leicester equalised around ten minutes before the break through Harvey Barnes. A lovely ball over the top from Wout Faes was brought down by Barnes who took it past Ashley Young and beat him for pace before smashing one across goal and past Emi Martinez into the Villa net to level the game.
Barnes had another chance five before the break as he cut inside from the left and let fly, and a deflection off Mings unsettled Martinez slightly, however he made a good stop to keep it level. The half time whistle was sounded after two additional minutes, and work was there to be done for both sides if either side wanted to get all three points.
Leicester kicked off and we were back underway for the second half. Harvey Barnes was a real problem for Ashley Young on Leicester’s left hand side, he nearly picked out Jamie Vardy a few minutes into the half, however the cross was a few inches out of reach. Not many clear cut chances fell to either side until the 66th minute when Alex Moreno hit the post. A free kick taken quickly resulted in a good passage of play between Buendia and Moreno on the left hand side, and Moreno managed to run in behind before crashing against the woodwork. Just shy of the seventy minute mark, Kiernan Dewsbury Hall was sent off for a second bookable offence. Jacob Ramsey was put under pressure by Wout Faes and played it back to Ashley Young, and Dewsbury Hall went in late and recieved a second yellow and Leicester were down to ten. A good chance for Jacob Ramsey followed as Young put a good low ball into the box towards Buendia who laid it off to Ramsey, however it was fired over. Ashley Young had a half decent chance with fifteen to go as a corner was played to the edge of the box towards Young, however he blazed a shot over from around twenty yards out. Patson Daka replaced Jamie Vardy for Leicester before putting a chance wide just shy of the eighty minute mark. Jhon Duran came on for Jacob Ramsey as Villa looked to salvage a win from the game. Only one side looked like scoring as Villa continued to take the game to the foxes - John McGinn had an effort deflected over the bar by Kristansen for a Villa corner. Ricardo Periera came on for James Maddison for Leicester, and Villa made a triple substitution as Leon Bailey, Alex Moreno and Ashley Young all made way for Bertrand Traore, Lucas Digne and Calum Chambers with around minutes five to go. One of Villa’s substitutions proved vital… A misplaced pass by Ndidi landed at the feet by Bertrand Traore who finessed it beautifully over the head of Iversen and into the back of Leicester’s net to give Villa the lead with minutes to go.
Leicester came very close to equalising as they were awarded a penalty as Watkins was penalised for a foul on Patson Daka, however Graham Scott looked at the monitor and the decision was overturned, and shortly after, the final whistle was sounded, and Villa pick up another huge three points on the road as their European hopes stay alive and Leicester’s relegations worries get even worse. Man Of The Match - Alex Moreno
An extremely tough decision as it could've gone to a number of players, but the man of the match has had to go to Alex Moreno who has really started to mellow at Aston Villa. One of Emery's winter signings, and despite taking him a few games to settle in, he has now established himself as a starter ahead of Digne. Simply superb out there tonight for Villa. Honourable mention goes to the record breaker Ollie Watkins too. Biggest Underperformer - Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy is far from the player he used to be, and today he proved that as he was useless for Leicester. He didn't have a sniff all night and was replaced for Daka with around twenty minutes to go.
BY HARRY BATTERS - @HarryBatters