Aston Villa’s 4-0 win against Derby County was remarkable for a number of reasons, not least that it came seemingly out of the blue.
Jack Grealish was coming back, that’s a boost for Villa, but there was still little evidence they had a four goal salvo in them, least of all in the first half.
Their lukewarm displays of late have seen them lose touch with the likes of Derby, but the promotion race is a marathon, not a sprint.
There were a lot of big performances, with Grealish undoubtedly stealing the show with his own wonder strike just before half time.
It overshadowed a brace by another player who has been under fire in recent weeks and maybe needed the boost more than anyone.
Conor Hourihane suffers from not being Grealish or McGinn.
He’s the Villa midfielder some fans would like to see replaced and with Grealish coming back, one who is likely to be on the bench soon. Once McGinn is back on the grass, the former Barnsley man is going to be under pressure.
He hadn’t scored since Boxing Day and after the turn of the year, his performances have dropped off as sharply as Villa’s.
In an increasingly lacklustre side, he’s been one of the players standing out as ordinary. With big players due back, it’s not a good look to be wearing.
That is why he’ll be delighted this week.
Grealish might have stolen the headlines, but anyone studying the match video and analysing performance will surely pick up on his.
e bagged twice, taking his season total to seven, but sending a clear message to the fans: I’m not done yet.
The 28-year-old has 18 goals for Villa in 80 league starts, whereas Grealish has 12 in 77. His input is often overshadowed by the bigger names, meaning when he does badly it’s highlighted far quicker.
If Jack Grealish plays badly, he’ll get back to form. If Conor Hourihane plays badly, he was never good enough anyway.
That’s why he’ll be floating through training this week, still working hard but with a spring in his step. He’s absolutely good enough for Aston Villa and this weekend, he gave them a brief glimpse of why that is.