Tammy Abraham may have scored twice and bagged the Man of the Match award as Aston Villa drew 2-2 at home to Queens Park Rangers, but John McGinn’s influential effect on proceedings did not go unnoticed.
Recent weeks have not been kind on the 24-year-old, who struggled in Villa’s latest games against Stoke, Leeds and Preston while playing in one of the more attacking midfield slots of Dean Smith’s 4-1-4-1 system.
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Smith’s move to a 4-3-3 against QPR, as Birkir Bjarnason returned to the starting line-up at the expense of Glenn Whelan, allowed McGinn to slot back into the centre of proceedings and in turn the Scotland international pulled the strings from deep.
McGinn may have assisted Abraham’s fifth-minute opener against Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds on December 23, but the 13-cap international only recorded a pass accuracy of 58% – an appalling return for someone of his calibre, with only Orjan Nyland finding a Villans teammate on fewer occasions.
The £2.7million rated Glaswegian had visibly shaken the monkey off his back against Steve McClaren’s Hoops on Tuesday, however, as he registered a 71% pass accuracy by finding his colleagues on 22 occasions.
His one and only key pass of the game also connected with Abraham to open the scoring, as McGinn lofted a deft left-footed cross into the penalty area for the Chelsea product to head home low to Joe Lumley’s right-hand side.
The cross offset the 24-year-old’s earlier miss, when his left-footed strike hammered against the crossbar. McGinn’s powerful effort was followed by later shots blocked by Rangers defenders and then saved by the 23-year-old goalkeeper.
Defensively, the central option of Smith’s three midfielders contributed heavily, with the most successful tackles of any player in claret and blue. The 5 foot 10 ace also intercepted the ball on one occasion and registered two clearances.