Aston Villa are a group on the up so, as a reflection of their collective resurgence, it is almost certainly worth beginning with these who may possibly also have been in contention for player of the season.
Each Douglas Luiz and Tyrone Mings stood out for their consistency more than the season. The Brazilian has scored 5 objectives and set up a different six, even though Mings has turned into Villa’s Mr Dependable more than a campaign that began with him losing initial the captaincy and then his beginning spot beneath the management of Steven Gerrard.
There are also shouts for the evergreen Ashley Young, nonetheless playing so sturdy at 37. Had the season began in January, then captain John McGinn would be in the reckoning alongside Ollie Watkins, who has broken scoring records at Villa this season and amassed a tally of 15 objectives to his name.
That there are various possibilities shows that Villa have had an exceptional season — undoubtedly beneath Gerrard’s successor, Unai Emery, anyway. But there is 1 player who has gone slightly beneath the radar but basically need to not be ignored.
Emiliano Martinez, the initial-ever player to win the Globe Cup even though playing for Villa, is so regularly superior that his performances are generally basically overlooked.
His excellence is taken for granted. It is assumed he will play effectively and hence, when the 30-year-old conjures one thing great, it is brushed off as “Martinez just getting Martinez”.
Martinez at complete stretch to deny Tottenham (Photo: Adrian Dennis / AFP by means of Getty Photos)
So, to refresh the thoughts and do the goalkeeper justice, right here are some of the gorgeous saves he has produced this season.
It feels like a even though ago now but, back in November, Martinez had a say in stopping Cristiano Ronaldo from scoring on his final Premier League look with this fine save to deny the Portuguese’s header. Villa went on to win in Unai Emery’s initial game in charge.
A comparable pattern followed. Right here, against Everton, Martinez superbly recommendations Amadou Onana’s header more than the crossbar to maintain Villa’s clean sheet intact. The guests go on to win the game at Goodison Park in February.
A further closely contested game against Leeds United saw Villa win by a single target. Right here, Martinez denies Jack Harrison from close variety by creating himself large in the essential moment.
On a quantity of occasions, Martinez has got the far better of the no cost-kick taker, but this was the choose of the saves he has mustered from dead-ball scenarios as he recommendations Philip Billing’s work more than. Once again Villa go on to win comfortably at house to Bournemouth.
Villa had to withstand an onslaught of Chelsea attacks at Stamford Bridge, but Martinez denied Kai Havertz and Mykhailo Mudryk as effectively as summoning this fine cease, diving down to his correct to tip a Joao Felix work about the post. Once again, Villa won.
Maybe his most impressive functionality was in the 1-1 draw at Brentford. He saved effectively to deny Ivan Toney from close variety (beneath) but was forced off via illness in the second half.
It was throughout that period when Villa looked shaky without having their essential man in among the sticks. That served as a reminder of the influence he exerts more than the group and the supply of reassurance he has offered all campaign.
The list goes on. There was this memorable save to deny Alexander Isak when Villa beat Newcastle three- final month…
… and this save to maintain out Diego Costa against Wolves, which at least gave Villa the opportunity to level in the second half even if they did eventually just fall quick.
The most eye-catching of the lot was almost certainly this cease (bel0w) against Harry Kane in the current two-1 win more than Tottenham Hotspur. Hardly ever does the England striker miss when 1-on-1 like this. Most goalkeepers are left floundering, sprawled on the turf even though the England forward wheels away in celebration. At the moment this clip is taken, Kane appears odds-on to convert Tottenham’s second touch of the afternoon in the Villa box.
But getting a way about Martinez — even for Kane — is a different matter.
Of course, there have been some low points along the way. Martinez took time to develop into accustomed to the style of passing out from the back, even if he does now appear a lot more confident and assured. There was the poor show in a house defeat to his former club Arsenal, also. But the way he has reacted to each setback, decorated by the saves he has produced and detailed above, suggests that this functionality was a 1-off.
His time-wasting and gamesmanship have gotten beneath the skins of opponents but, for Villa supporters, that basically adds to his distinctive charm.
Obtaining a planet-class stopper on board has offered a platform for good results. Yes, he’s brash and in your face, but he’s also essential to the way Villa play and a dependable final line of defence.
Going into the final round of fixtures, he has the most quantity of catches (49) of any Premier League goalkeeper this season to his name — it is a talent that blunts attacks from the flanks and guarantees Emery’s demands for Villa to be controlled and measured.
There is no other goalkeeper really like him. That is why he is Villa’s player of the season.
(Photo for major image: Alex Pantling / Getty Photos. Design and style by Sam Richardson)