Three points, a clean sheet, and a penalty save from the debutant. Things couldn’t have gone much better for Aston Villa in their first Premier League game of the season.
Dean Smith’s side – who didn’t play last weekend due to original opponents Manchester United’s lengthy Europa League run last season -opened up their campaign with a 1-0 victory over ten-man Sheffield United on Monday night.
And whilst new signing Emiliano Martinez will be one of the major headlines after saving a penalty from John Lundstram when the scores were locked level at 0-0, match-winner Ezri Konsa once again proved his immense potential at the heart of defence.
The 22-year-old played 25 times in the Premier League last season, and failed to appear in just one game in the top-flight from December 26 when Villa beat Norwich 1-0 at home.
Despite filling in at right-back on occasion, Konsa ended up partnering Tyrone Mings in the middle of defence for the closing few weeks of the campaign, with Smith going with the same centre-back duo against Sheffield United.
And aside from heading home the winner after a Mings flick-on from a corner, Konsa looked cool, calm and collected at the back, even shaking off an injury scare.
As per Sofascore, he won an incredible 12 of his 14 total duels, including winning 100% of those contested on the ground. He also made team-highs of four clearances and two interceptions, and kept things nicely ticking over from the back, boasting an 86% pass accuracy.
Having brought in a top-class goalkeeper in Martinez who was part of a FA Cup winning side last season, the next thing Smith needs to make sure is building a defence better than last year.
The Villans conceded 67 goals last season – only Norwich conceded more (75) – but Konsa and Mings seem like they could be the answer for both now and for the future.