Villa were triumphant against a Reading side that embarrassed them in the earlier reaches of the season, returning the favour in a 3-0 drubbing at Villa Park. Much of the game was the home side, it was just a matter of when Villa would score.
Read our five talking points from the game below:
1. Patience is a virtue
Barring the away victory at Sunderland, this was our easiest game of the season. It was a matter of if not when Villa would score after Dave Edwards got sent-off. Despite drawing a blank in the first-half, Villa moved the ball around well and made up for it in the second 45 with three goals. Patience did in fact prove to be a virtue as a depleted Reading tired.
2. Thor on his A game
Bikir Bjarnason may have had a tough start to life at Villa Park, but the Icelander was on top form today. Bjarnason’s work-rate in midfield allowed the likes of Jack Grealish and Robert Snodgrass to do their thing, especially in the second-half, and scored one of our goals of the season so far. One of the few Villa players going to the World Cup this year, it remains to be seen whether Bjarnason can make that defensive midfield berth his own. From today’s showing there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be.
3. Taylor struggling offensively
In the first-half, an overlapping Neil Taylor struggled to find the right cross, and had a shot which went out for a throw-in at one point. Last season Taylor was excellent, but this term when we’re on the front-foot against a lot of teams, the Welshman cannot always be relied upon for that quality in the final third.
4. Kodjia leaves Bruce with a selection headache
Take nothing away from Scott Hogan, who’s second-half goal rewarded his persistence, but will Johnathan Kodjia muscle his way into the starting 11 before the season finishes? The Ivorian came off the bench after 66 minutes and grew into the game, nearly getting a goal late on. On the one hand, starting a match-fit Kodjia, who scored 19 goals last season, is a no-brainer right? On the other, as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. It would be harsh to drop Hogan. Then you’ve got Lewis Grabban on the bench as well as Keinan Davis due to return. Nevertheless, the striker dilemma is a good problem to have.
5. Automatics still on?
Realistically, it looks like Villa will end up in the play-offs. Cardiff, in second, are seven points above the Pride, but face league leaders Wolves and then us in their next two games. While unlikely, the Bluebirds could have dropped six points going into game week 42. Then again, Fulham, who haven’t lost a league game since December, would be favourites to nip in, so we’ll need a rare slip up from them too. It’s unlikely Villa will finish second, but certainly not impossible.