The Aston Villa winger enjoys his return to England with senior thieves from Dean Smith and could produce a statement performance on Wednesday
On the last day of the 2019/20 season, Aston Villa traveled to West Ham United with a result to maintain their top-flight status.
They would end up handling precisely that, thanks to a 1-1 draw against the Hammers. However, while Jack Grealish’s six-minute goal was officially enshrined in the celebrations, it was their victory – five days earlier over Arsenal at home – that really set the stage for this momentous escape.
This 1-0 triumph, secured by the right boot of Egypt international Mahmoud Trezeguet, was a turning point, as Villa started 2020/21 in absolutely dazzling form.
The key to this, somewhat ironic, was taking a ruthless view of the team’s makeup.
Dean Smith’s side have made a number of improvements to the first team, but perhaps the most notable are on the team’s right flank: Ahmed Elmohamady has been replaced by Matty Cash at right-back and Trezeguet, despite his survival. heroic, was usurped by Bertrand Traoré.
The 25-year-old, who joined this summer from the Ligue 1 semi-finalists from Lyon, has had a pretty colorful career so far.
Snatched from the Auxerre youth system by Chelsea in 2013, Traore was introduced to the London club’s famous loan factory, enjoying productive spells at Vitesse and Ajax, before being traded to The Gones in 2017.
Despite a tough first stint in England, a move to Villa saw the Burkinabe international fulfill his long-standing desire to prove his worth in the Premier League, and so far he has grabbed it with both hands.
It took him a little while to really get going, but three of his last five games have signaled his intention and offer a taste of what’s to come.
Perhaps the squad’s pick came against the struggling West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns – an early, caressed arrival in the bottom corner that left Baggies goalkeeper Sam Johnstone completely bereft and helpless to resist. It was a microcosm of all of Traore’s offerings at its best: cunning, culture and unpredictability.
Trezeguet of course had the latter in spades, but often in the less flattering sense of the word.
Towards the end of his time in the starting lineup, he became more and more prone to unlikely hiccups. Most blatantly of the lot came in the 2-1 loss to West Ham, when he materialized without a mark inside the six-yard penalty area, but somehow failed to turn a center to Ollie Watkins.
It’s likely, given the club’s sizable transfer expenses, that Smith would have ultimately put Traore aside. Nonetheless, Trezeguet’s bad luck in front of goal made the decision a bit easier, and Traore responded emphatically, taking over as forward Watkins struggles to come out of an eight-game drought.
Wednesday’s meeting with Manchester City, however, will present a particularly severe challenge, but one that brings opportunities for former Chelsea Wonderkid.
He will have regretted not having been put on the scoresheet against his former employers at Stamford Bridge recently, if only to show them that they were wrong to let him go without giving him a good run in the team. His tie against Manchester United four days later was also overshadowed by the penalty from Bruno Fernandes, who denied Villa a share of the points.
The clash against City therefore offers Traoré a chance to achieve a real performance in Bordeaux.
Three goals and one assist in his last four games. ?
Bertrand Traoré is in good shape. ? pic.twitter.com/ozpeLWHTaF
– Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) January 2, 2021
Their latest outing – a one-goal loss to Southampton – saw captain Jordan Henderson substitute at center-back, a less than optimal solution that could have been punished more severely had the Saints been more composure during transitions.
Although Villa have lost their last two games, they will be well rested not having played their first team in a game since the loss to Manchester United on New Year’s Day.
It’s a nearly three-week rest – given they played their U-23 side against Liverpool amid a Covid crisis – which should ensure Villa is well rested during the race, even if she is. faced with a significant backlog of matches.
First off, they face City and another chance for Traore’s signing to remind Chelsea of what they lack.