By Grace Chingoma
Just call him the Aston Villa lucky charm – SIX appearances, 375 minutes on the field, no goal conceded by the English Premiership side.
No wonder why Marvelous Nakamba’s name has been trending, both on social and mainstream media, after his blockbuster show in his team’s impressive 1-0 win over Leeds United at Elland Road on Saturday night.
“Another stand-in, Marvelous Nakamba, had arguably his best game in a Villa shirt,” noted the authoritative website, www.football365.com.
“His passing, like that of many of his team-mates, was sometimes loose, giving Ollie Watkins little to work with, though work he did.
“But, Nakamba wasn’t chosen for his creativity. His selection was made to nullify the energy of Tyler Roberts and Mateusz Klich. Nakamba’s effervescence made Smith’s brave call the correct one.”
His manager, Dean Smith, was also impressed by Nakamba’s performance, and his team’s victory, with his side producing an all-round solid show.
“Yeah, it was a good,” Smith said about Nakamba’s shift, in his post-match interview with VillaTV. Positionally, I thought he got in good areas. He broke things up when he needed to.
“He could have been a bit tidier on the ball, at times, but it was a tough surface out there to play on.
“A lot of players slipped but, defensively, he was really good with and without the ball. That’s what you need from him when you come in.
He’s certainly not let us down.
“It’s four or five games now and we’ve not conceded a goal with him in our team. At the moment he’s certainly earning his stripes.”
For Nakamba, just to force the highly-rated Brazil Under-23 captain, Douglas Luiz, onto the bench, was a triumph on its own and his strong performance merited the move by Smith.
This was only the fourth win, in 19 games, for Villa, without their influential captain, Jack Grealish, and only their first win, without the captain, since their return to the top-flight league.
Saturday’s game meant that Villa have also not conceded a goal, in the four matches, in which Nakamba has started, including a memorable win over Arsenal.
“He’s never let us down when he’s come in. We’ve been having a decent season and it’s been hard for him to get minutes,” said Smith.
“But, he’s one who’s certainly trained very well and, when players aren’t performing, I knew I could put him in.
“He’s never let us down when he’s come in and today was another example of that.