Walsall 1-5 Aston Villa: New boys impress as Villans put Walsall to the sword
Getty - Clive Mason

Aston Villa ran out rampant 5-1 winners in their pre-season encounter with Walsall at the Banks' Stadium.

A brace from new signing Wesley Moraes, two more fromJota and a final strike from Jack Grealish ensured Stuart Sinclair’s goal for the hosts would only be a consolation.

Story of the game

Dean Smith’s summer signings put on a dazzling display as Villa began the game in furious fashion.

New boys Frederic Guilbert and Jota combined for the opening goal after just 10 minutes. 

A superb passage of play was rounded off when the overlapping Guilbert whipped in a fierce ball to the near post. Former Birmingham City winger Jota obliged with the finish, which Liam Roberts in goal could do little about.

Only three minutes later and the visitors had struck a second. Jota this time turned provider, deftly sliding the ball into club-record signing Wesley, who finished across goal to the bottom corner.

The Saddlers first chance came 10 minutes later as the home side grew into the fixture. Bright spark Elijah Adebayo’s curling effort was a let off for Smith’s men as the ball drifted mercifully wide.

A warning that Villa swiftly responded to. Pressing for a third, Wesley was dragged down in the penalty area. Eager for his brace, the Brazilian who joined for £22million from Club Brugge collected the ball and lashed it into the top corner with a swagger. 

Flying through the first half, Villa hit some turbulence.

Sinclair collected a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area and looped a fine shot out of reach of Lovre Kalinic’s six-foot-seven frame to the top corner to make it 1-3.

Goals a-plenty in the first period, but Villa were not satisfied with three and crowned the half with another.

Jota joining Wesley by doubling his tally before the break. The Spaniard jinked inside from a wide position before powering his shot to Roberts’ near post.

Unrelentingly, Villa pressed on into the second half. 

Wesley staked his claim for the man of the match award by adding a wonderful assist to his brace just before the hour mark. 

Turning his marker with power and speed, he cut in from the by-line before plating up a sumptuous side-footed Jack Grealish finish.

After 70 minutes, Smith made wholesale changes and swapped the outfield 10 to rapturous applause. A mouth-watering taste of what is to come for the 4000 travelling fans.

Youngster Rushian Hepburn-Murphy shone but the game finished as it was after an hour.

Takeaways from the game

Summer signings have gelled

It is a regular occurrence that summer signings arrive at a club and struggle to get to grips with team mates and English football. It can take considerable time for some stars to shine, but Villa’s signings have taken to each other like ducks to water. A brace from both Jota and Wesley signed off a rampant first half for the claret and blues.

Attacking with width is Villa’s modus operandi 

New full-back signings Matt Targett and Guilbert were incisive and menacing all game and have clearly laid out Smith’s plans for the Premier League season ahead. Interchanging positions with wingers, the full-backs created constant space in behind the Saddlers back line. 

Villa fans have their new hero

Men who carried Aston Villa back to the big time last season hold legendary status at Villa Park, but the loss of top-scorer and loanee Tammy Abraham left a void. In Wesley, Villans have found their new hero. Vociferous chants of “WESLEY, WESLEY” greeted his every touch after he netted his first goal for the club and one can only picture the love-in for the passionate and powerful striker increasing.

Man of the Match

There were some notable performances from the likes of Jota and Guilbert, but it was Aston Villa’s club-record signing that caught the eye most. Wesley ran the show for the visitors, and with two goals and an assist, he deservedly earns man of the match.

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