It may have been in controversial circumstances, but Aston Villa fans won’t care one bit after their side sealed an important three points against Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday night.
Dean Smith’s side were perhaps fortunate to not be a man down when Matty Cash seemed to handle the ball inside the box, and the right-back was then involved in the late VAR call that went against Danny Ings which ensured that Villa clung on to a 1-0 win at St Mary’s.
Amidst all the drama, left-back Matt Targett produced an outstanding display, both defensively and offensively, and has quickly become Smith’s unsung hero this season.
The £35k-a-week earning ace won a whopping 11 duels and made an incredible nine tackles on the night, both of which were by far the game-highs – in terms of his season average, he won double the number of duels, and more than quadrupled the number of tackles.
He stopped Southampton’s dead-ball specialist James Ward-Prowse from having too much time to try and pick out his man, and his defensive intensity was something that surely would have pleased Smith.
In his post-match player ratings for The Birmingham Mail, Ashley Preece gave him an 8, and wrote: “Back at his boyhood club and continued his improved form once more with a beautifully-weighted ball to Grealish ahead of him before the skipper assisted Barkley for the opener.
“Targett was in inspired form once more, though, and kept Southampton at bay throughout with ‘Tiggs’ doing much more defending in the second period. Solid.”
And via Whoscored, out of players who have featured more than ten times in the Premier League this season, Targett has the fifth-highest average match rating of any Villa player.
He may not be the flashiest full-back in the game, especially given how most modern players in that position like to play, always bombing forward and trying to get their name on a goal or an assist.
Targett just does his job with no fuss, and it’s no surprise that in terms of tackles and interceptions per game this season (2.1 and 1.7), he ranks second among all Villa players.
He may not be a Jack Grealish or Ollie Watkins, but Targett is proving that he is just as vital of a cog in this Villa machine.