It will be hard for Aston Villa manager Dean Smith to keep Anwar El Ghazi out of his team from now on after a magnificent performance against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.
El Ghazi came on from the bench last week when Villa and Nottingham Forest played to an extraordinary 5-5 draw, but the winger cracked the nod ahead of Jonathan Kodjia against Boro and put in a strong performance as Smith’s men claimed an easy 3-0 win.
Villa dominated every facet of the match and could easily have added more goals if they were more clinical in-front of goal.
Never the less, the Villans outclassed Boro in every department with El Ghazi particularly keeping George Friend and Muhamed Besic busy on the right wing. His numbers also make for impressive reading and did he somewhat performed under the radar to help guide the team to victory.
The 23-year-old won ten duels that he was involved in, made five recoveries on defence and created two chances in the 90 minutes. These statistics have proved that he could be the long-term answer for Smith’s side as he looks a natural on the right-wing who is brilliant on both attack and defence.
His threat going forward will always be his strongest point but the determination he showed on Saturday to try and prevent Boro from creating any sort of space will be even more rewarding for Villa in the future.
El Ghazi made the job of right-back Ahmed Elmohamady much easier to defend and was the idea of Smith to start the two against Boro a clear indication that the manager wants a more focused performance in terms of defence, compared to the match against Forest last week.
Swapping Yanick Bolasie to the left, in order to make way for El Ghazi, provided the team with a better balance in the midfield. Jack Grealish also had the opportunity to play in his preferred role just behind Tammy Abraham again, which gave the Dutch international a lot of leverage to make deep runs from the right.