BY FORTUNE MBELE
ASTON Villa manager Dean Smith has praised Warriors star Marvelous Nakamba for his role in the team’s victory over Arsenal on Saturday.
Nakamba had been reduced to a bit part player, but has used every opportunity he got to good effect.
He has so far started three matches and in each of them, the Birmingham side has kept clean sheets.
On Saturday, Villa beat Arsenal 1-0 at Villa Park.
Nakamba had another good outing against the Gunners, playing a full game in which Ollie Watkins was on target for Villa to claim victory.
Smith is quoted by Birminghammail giving the thumbs up to the Zimbabwean once again.
“I haven’t changed the team too much this season because the players have done enough to keep their jerseys. I decided to rest Bert in the last game and Douglas (Luiz) in this game. Marvelous has came into three games now and we have kept three clean sheets so I know the players who are on the sidelines at the moment aren’t happy being there, but I know they will do the business when they are called upon,” Smith said.
He added: “I just felt we needed some fresh legs in the midfield area. Douglas had played every minute of the last five games; John (McGinn) had missed just one having sat out of the Newcastle game suspended. I felt it was best to rest Douglas for this game and ‘Naka’ has came in and gave us some really good energy. He is more of a defensive midfielder than Douglas and gives us something a little bit different.”
The Warriors defensive linkman was rated 7,5/10 for the Arsenal game, a lower rating compared to when Aston Villa dismissed Newcastle a fortnight ago when Nakamba started.
The statistics show that Nakamba completed 20 passes with a success rate of 65%, making six recoveries and winning seven out of 10 duels.
After the 2-0 win over Newcastle at Villa Park on January 23, Smith was also impressed by Nakamba saying after the game: “Marvelous came in against Newcastle and was excellent, and that is important. When you have good structure and organisation, players can come in and they know their roles.”
Nakamba sat on the bench when his side lost 3-2 to Burnley in the next game after Newcastle, came in the second half in the 1-0 win over Southampton and watched as his side suffered a 3-1 defeat to West Ham before playing 90 minutes in the win against Arsenal on Saturday.
The Warriors man was subject of the transfer speculation in the January transfer window.
Villa were reluctant to let go of the former Club Brugge star and after yet another solid display on Saturday, it is clear why.
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