Aston Villa narrowly avoided defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion at the AMEX Stadium on Saturday after the hosts squandered several chances to take the lead.
Dean Smith had a lot to thank his goalkeeper Emi Martinez for at the final whistle after a string of first-class saves (nine to be precise) ensured the Villans extended their unbeaten run to two games in a row after a patchy run of form.
The result means that Villa lie eighth in the table, level on points with Tottenham Hotspur and just four points behind fourth-placed Liverpool with two games in hand over the defending Premier League champions.
Smith singled out praise for his first-choice stopper after the game and said “it was a one-man show at times” following his heroics in the 0-0 draw with Graham Potter’s side on Saturday. However, we feel someone else deserves a special mention as well.
That just so happens to be Tyrone Mings, a player who has gone from playing non-league football for Chippenham Town to earning four England caps since returning to the Premier League with AFC Bournemouth.
The former Cherries star was given the task of keeping the likes of Neil Maupay and Leandro Trossard at bay for most of the game and he managed to keep them in his back pocket for the most part.
Maupay is the Seagulls’ top scorer this season with a tally of seven goals but Mings largely kept him under control as he struggled to have much of an impact – the Frenchman’s tally of 13 total passes was the lowest of any starter for Brighton on the day.
During the full 90′ minutes, Mings made eleven clearances, which was more than any other player including Martinez and at least seven more than his closest rival in the form of Brighton defender Lewis Dunk (4).
Only Matt Targett (2) and Ahmed El-Mohamady (2) made more tackles than Mings in the entire game. In terms of blocking shots, only Ezri Konsa blocked more shots than the 27-year-old. He also wasn’t dribbled past at all, which shows that he was a difficult presence to get back and a testament to how the Seagulls were reluctant to take him on one v one.
Despite their best efforts, Brighton couldn’t break down a determined Villa defence which was well marshalled by the England international. Maupay tried time and time again to break the deadlock, but he couldn’t even manage a single shot on target, which was a testament to Mings’ defensive shift at the back.
The towering colossus, who currently earns around £25,000-per-week at Villa Park, has quietly gone about his business this season but it may no be too long before one of the Premier League’s giants come calling for his signature in the summer.
Manchester United have recently been credited with an interest in the Englishman though whether Villa will be willing to entertain offers for one of their star players remains to be seen.
While Martinez may take home the headlines for his performance, it was Mings who arguably Smith’s unsung hero.