Check out what we learned with ‘5 things’ from the draw with Stoke City.
Here we analyse the game and look at some claret and blue talking points.
1] Kodjia class
Jonathan Kodjia gave Dean Smith a festive reminder of his quality this past weekend.
Kodjia has had to be patient these past few games, with Anwar El Ghazi earning an extended run in the side under Head Coach Smith.
After being a mainstay at the start of the campaign, Kodjia has been on the bench for the games against Middlesbrough, West Brom and Stoke City.
El Ghazi has been very impressive with his pace and grace but when Kodjia was called on, in the second half against the Potters, you couldn’t really have asked for a better impact.
Within minutes, he’d won a penalty, which Tammy Abraham converted – and then scored in the final few minutes with a bullet header, which earned us a very valuable draw.
Not only will be the late point have pleased Smith, so, too, will the competition for places that has been created.
He said: “Previously Anwar took his chance. That’s what I want – the players pushing each other to try and get in the team and to play.
“Kodjia is pushing. I want them to give me food for thought for changes.”
2] Sunny in Stoke
It’s fair to say that management is a very tough and challenging profession, with stress levels not letting up throughout the season.
It’s an ebb and flow business with results of paramount importance each week.
No question that Dean Smith will be setting himself big targets this term – and he’s not shied away from them in pre or post match press conferences.
He’s also continuing to show his affable personality – and his wicked sense of humour.
Discussing the freezing conditions on show against the Potters, he smiled and replied: “At the end of the day, the conditions levelled the game out.
“It took away our home advantage because it was like a summer’s day in Stoke!”
Pushed further on the wet and windy weather, he added: “I found out today that one of my jackets wasn’t as waterproof as I thought it was!”
Smith is as focused, motivated and ambitious a head coach as you’ll meet in the game but his bright, convivial and jovial personality is an important added extra.
3] No stopping our Villans
Not sure there are words to accurately sum up how cold it was at Villa Park on Saturday.
If we try, it’s fair to say it was freezing, wet and windy – three adjectives that aren’t conducive to big attendances.
However, as we should have expected, our magnificent fanbase didn’t let a thing like bad weather put them off cheering on their heroes.
We had 36,999 here in B6 for the Potters clash – the fourth biggest attendance in English football this weekend.
The only matches with more were Man City v Everton, Liverpool v Man Utd and Tottenham v Burnley.
Fantastic effort from the Villans and further proof, if it was needed, of the stature of the football club.
4] Delight for Davis
He may not have seen any action on the pitch but Keinan Davis will have been as pleased as anyone on Saturday.
Davis has endured a very difficult time as he’s attempted to battle back from injury.
He’s been plagued by a pelvis/hip problem since pre-season and, despite a couple of premature comebacks, it’s been a long road back.
Davis, who made a big impression in 2017/18 as he broke into the first team with big performances and three goals, has trained vigorously for the past three weeks under Dean Smith.
And, finally, after months of frustration, he saw himself named among the substitutes for the Stoke City game.
Welcome back, Keinan! Great to see you!
5] Keep it going
Momentum isn’t always about winning.
Sometimes snatching a draw when you’re heading for defeat can give you a welcome boost.
This game against Stoke City should be one of those occasions.
Not that we didn’t deserve it but when Benik Afobe slammed home from the spot, it looked like it could be one of those frustrating afternoons.
Up stepped, Jonathan Kodjia, to rescue a point in the closing minutes.
Let’s use the positivity from that finish to fire us up over the festive period - and beyond.