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On the Whistle: Aston Villa 1-4 Leicester City

Team news: El Ghazi and Luiz start against Foxes Dean's Debrief: Mings' injury, defensive effort, VAR and Ron Saunders tribute
On the Whistle: Aston Villa 1-4 Leicester City

Game details

Match: Aston Villa v Leicester City
Competition: Premier League
Date: Sunday 8th December 2019
Venue: Villa Park
Attendance: 41,908

Scoring summary

Grealish 45

Vardy 20, 75, Iheanacho 40, Evans 49

Line-up

Heaton, Targett (Guilbert 78), El Mohamady, Mings (Engels 23), Konsa, Luiz, Nakamba (Trezeguet 59), McGinn, Grealish, El Ghazi, Wesley. Unused subs: Nyland, Hourihane, Lansbury, Trezeguet, Kodija.

Story in brief 

Aston Villa were overpowered by Leicester City on a day that was about more than football at Villa Park.

Having paid tribute to former boss Ron Saunders before kick-off, the home side were quickly on the back foot and were indebted to a slide tackle from Ezri Konsa to deny James Maddison the opener after three minutes. 

Anwar El Ghazi struck the bar from Matt Targett's pull-back as the hosts hit back, and his miss was to prove costly as the Premier League's top scorer, Jamie Vardy, rounded Tom Heaton and Konsa to net his 15th of the season. 

The task was made harder for Villa five minutes before the break when Kelechi Iheanacho turned home Maddison's centre. 

But with the final attack of the first half, the Villa Park faithful were on their feet as Jack Grealish thrashed home his fourth goal of the season. 

Jonny Evans' imperious back post header restored the Foxes two-goal lead just after half-time before Vardy struck again to complete the scoring.

A tribute to Ron Saunders 

Villa supporters were in a state of shock following the news that Ron Saunders had died less than 24 hours earlier. But the pre-match tributes left no-one in any doubt about the esteem in which the club’s most successful manager is held.

The tune Theme From An Unmade Silent Movie boomed out from the PA system, reminding us of the music which played when Villa emerged from the tunnel during Saunders’ time at the helm.

In front of the North Stand, we had five banners featuring photos of the great man, plus a sixth bearing one of his famous quotes: “I consider myself lucky that I happen to be the manager of their club, and I regard myself as one of them.”

That was followed by eight of Saunders’ players – Brian Little, Gordon Cowans, Charlie Aitken, Ken McNaught, Des Bremner, Nigel Spink, Chris Nicholl and Colin Gibson – lining up to welcome the teams onto the pitch.Tony Morley and Gary Shaw would have joined them, too, had they not been committed to media duties.

And the period of applause just before kick-off – and again in the 81st minute – could hardly have been more heartfelt.

The battle for Number Ten

Two of England's best playmakers went head-to-head on Sunday as Jack Grealish and James Maddison did battle. 

The similarities are there for all to see: both wearing No10, both the focal point of their teams and both with aspirations of becoming regulars for their country. 

Maddison was the Foxes' main creative source, providing two assists and causing the Villa backline problems with his pace, power and range of passing. 

Meanwhile, Villa's homegrown hero worked hard to put his stamp on proceedings, getting his reward when he curled the ball past Kasper Schmeichel.

Villa support Rainbow Laces

Villa Park was a sea of colour in the build up to kick-off as the club showed their support for Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign.

Players wore unique warm-up tops to mark the occasion, while there were giant flags waving in front of the Holte End as the club made our stance on discrimination clear. 

LGBT+ supporters group Villa and Proud were also flag bearers for the match, with activities taking place in the Fan Zone before kick-off. 

What’s next?

Aston Villa hit the road next as they travel to Bramall Lane in the Premier League to take on Sheffield United on 14th December. 

Three days later, Dean Smith’s team are back at Villa Park for a Carabao Cup quarter final against Liverpool. 

Greg  Styles
By @GregStyles91 8th December 2019