Dean Smith has told Aston Villa’s official website that while he cannot credit just one single individual member of the squad for his side’s outstanding defensive record, he does feel that Ezri Konsa has developed into the player the club hoped he would become this season.
Villa have kept the second-best record in the top flight. Only Manchester City have conceded fewer goals so far this term.
In fact, Emi Martinez has not had to pick the ball out of his net once in December. And as Villa look to keep their fourth clean sheet in a row on Boxing Day, Smith insisted that the whole team deserve credit for their stability – though he did also highlight how impressed he has been with both Martinez and Konsa.
“You can’t just put it on one player and it’s been a team effort to have that desire to keep the ball out the back of the net,” he told the club’s official website.
“Emi Martinez has come in and given the team in front of him a lot of confidence. Ezri Konsa’s stepped up and become every bit the player we wanted him to be.”
Martinez and Konsa have, rightly, been receiving plaudits throughout the campaign. The decision to sign the former from Arsenal in the summer was simply a masterstroke.
And, as Smith notes, Konsa seems to have gone to another level this year. It was perhaps fair to say that he took a little longer to adapt to life in the Premier League.
In fairness to Kortney Hause, Villa have not suffered through not having Konsa in the last couple of games. But there is no question that it will still be a huge boost for the club when he does come back into the fold.