Aston Villa have a tough test when they return to competitive action on Boxing Day, having last played over a month ago before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, when they welcome Liverpool to Villa Park with sights set on continuing a fine run of form under Unai Emery.
With three wins from the past four divisional fixtures, including two wins from three since Emery assumed the role of head coach, optimism is teetering on brimming within the Claret and Blue ranks, and a positive result to partner a positive performance could go a long way in serving as a catalyst for success across the second-half of the campaign.
Perching in 12th place in the Premier League with 18 points from 15 outings, Villa have certainly put the foundation in place for better fortunes in the weeks preceding the international break, and now need to harness the talent of some of the club’s most exciting stars to maintain the surge.
Valued at £44m by CIES Football Observatory, Villa’s Jacob Ramsey has been making steady gains since emerging into the Aston Villa squad, now having made 80 appearances for the club, clinching eight goals and five assists, and the 21-year-old is well on the way to becoming an integral cog in Emery’s system.
On the chalkboard
The “hometown hero”, as dubbed by Squawka, has already demonstrated his aptitude against the division’s best this term, scoring a goal and assist during Villa’s monumental 3-1 victory over Manchester United in Emery’s dream debut for the outfit.
His match-best rating of 8.3 was largely down to his direct contributions, but having won 80% (eight out of ten) of his duels and making six tackles, he embodied the all-encompassing, vigorous performance required to truly excel as one of the great playmakers of the game.
With two goals and three assists this term, the creative-minded midfielder is indeed growing into his own, and the clash against Liverpool presents the perfect opportunity to ascend to the next level.
Will Aston Villa beat Liverpool?
With Liverpool somewhat out of sorts this season, currently languishing in sixth place, Emery will be confident in playing giant-killer after overseeing such a convincing display last month against the Red Devils. Against such illustrious opposition, it would be tempting to field Philippe Coutinho, someone who hasn’t yet featured under the new boss.
He is now back in training following an injury but Ramsey should be the obvious choice to be the true creator on Boxing Day instead.
As per FBref, Ramsey ranks within the top 11% for non-penalty goals, 17% for touches in the attacking penalty area and 4% for blocks made for players in his position across Europe’s top leagues – indicating both a budding goalscoring prowess and a resilient edge that will bode well against the Reds’ devastating attack.
Ramsey is building the blocks, oiling the engine, and he will soon unleash his full fury on the Premier League, the fact that he hasn’t get reached his full potential is actually compelling thought that will get Villa fans bouncing.
His performance against Jurgen Klopp‘s men will not define him, but it might just define the narrative of the clash on the night, and if he takes to the pitch with conviction, his side might get another coveted victory to add to Emery’s quickly growing collection.