Aston Villa earned their first three points of the season with a victory over Hull City. It has been a turbulent summer for the club, but they have come out of the other side and look to be promotion contenders again this campaign.
They couldn’t have had a worse start as a looping Evandro effort beat everybody and found its way into the back of the net. Visiting supporters weren’t silenced for long as poor defending from a corner allowed Tommy Elphick to score an equaliser.
The game was open and both teams had chances, but individual errors cost the home team. David Marshall was the first to commit one as his poor clearance gifted the ball back to Ahmed Elmohamady who scored against his former team.
The victory was confirmed thanks to a rare Alan Hutton goal. The full-back charged forward without being challenged and fired past Marshall to put the result beyond doubt. Here are three things learned from the game at the KCOM Stadium:
Jack Grealish is a cut above in this division
The transfer speculation surrounding the midfielder has refused to go away this summer and he showed why on Monday night. Grealish didn’t have his best game, but he looked a cut above every time he had the ball at his feet.
The 22-year-old rarely put a foot wrong as he completed 95% of his passes and he got the assist for the first goal. His corner delivery made it easy for Elphick to head home the equaliser.
In addition to his classy contributions in possession, Grealish was fouled more than any other player on the field, highlighting how he was targeted by the opposition. It was clear that he is too good for this division and it will be interesting to see how the final days of the transfer window play out.
If he stays, Aston Villa have a great chance of challenging for automatic promotion.
Hull City’s defence needs to improve
The scoreline flattered Aston Villa on the balance of play, as Hull City offered a threat and were arguably the better team for stretches of the game. However, they were let down by their defence.
All three Villa goals were examples of bad defending and Hull will be in trouble this season if they don’t cut out the individual errors. The first was poor marking from Jordy de Wijs as he let Tommy Elphick go in the area.
The second goal came from poor distribution by David Marshall. Meanwhile, the third could have been avoided as Alan Hutton charged through without a meaningful challenge.
Nigel Adkins is always upbeat, but he will realise the task ahead of him this season. The defence is his main concern and if it doesn’t tighten up, relegation is a real possibility.
Aston Villa need to get the best from Jonathan Kodjia
It was encouraging to see Kodjia named in the starting eleven for the first match of the season after his injury problems over the past 12 months. Last season, he managed only 18 appearances, nine of which were as a starter.
If he is fit, he is one of the best strikers in the division, as he showed between 2015 and 2017, when he scored 38 goals across spells at Villa and Bristol City.
On Monday, he looked short of confidence in the final third. His poor decision making was shown when he chose to go alone rather than play Elmohamady who was in a better position. There were two or three other examples of Kodjia giving it away cheaply.
It may take him a few weeks to get up to speed, but at the age of 28, he should be reaching the best years of his career. If Aston Villa want to challenge for promotion, they need to get the best out of Kodjia.