The Rise of Ezri Konsa
I remember the exact moment when everything clicked, and the fortunes of our great football club took a turn for the better. That day was the 12th July 2020. It’s matchday versus Crystal Palace at Villa Park.
As always, one hour prior to kick-off, we’re refreshing our social media accounts waiting for the the starting line-up to drop. Konsa starts, he retains his place in the back 4, as our right back.
Before we continue, let’s just have a quick recap of where we’re at. We’re 7 points from safety with 4 games to go! We’ve not won since the 21st January, a game where Villa Park erupted under the lights as we all celebrated what we thought was a Konsa winner deep into injury time against Watford, only for it to be taken off him and given to Tyrone Mings during the post match interview.
Covid-19 then gate-crashed the season, halting it mid-March and my god, we where in a state, our confidence was shot, squad morale was rock bottom: we were weak and doomed! Now as we re-join pre-Crystal Palace, it’s still not looking too bright. Since the start of Project Restart we’ve picked up 2 points out of 18, so we’ve got an awful lot to do!!
Back to that moment I spoke about. Kortney Hause picks up an injury during the warm up, no offence to Hause, he’d been solid enough but for me seeing two left footed centre halves wasn’t doing my anxiety any good in the heat of a relegation battle! This moment changed everything!
Konsa steps into a central pairing with Mings, and instantly we have a team with balance. In my eyes, balance is a fundamental part of building a winning formula. We haven’t looked back since. We beat Palace 2-0 that day and the defensive structure that we’ve been working on throughout lockdown feels like it’s all just come together.
Next game was Everton away. We manage the game so well, we look so sound defensively, a trio of Luiz, Konsa and Mings forming a brick wall of protection for Pepe Renia in the Villa goal. Konsa strikes, 1-0, no doubt this time around, it’s his first Premier League goal! Unfortunately, we concede late on to a looping Theo Walcott header — gutted! Colossal Konsa performances then follow in a 1-0 victory at home to Arsenal and a 1-1 draw that secured our Premier League status away at West Ham Utd.
The new season begins and the squad numbers are released, Konsa is handed the number 4 jersey while his central defensive partner Tyrone Mings swaps number 40 for 5. I like it a lot that our first choice centre-halves are 4 & 5. I love the traditional feel of it and the optimism that this partnership is going to be a mainstay for a long time to come. The last time we had a 4 & 5 at the back worked out quite well, yes that’s right, Mellberg and Laursen!
The opening game of the new season and Konsa is bang at it again, continuing his rich vein of form from the previous campaign. In a tight battle against 10 men Sheffield United, he pops up with a headed goal to secure the 3 points. Victories and accomplished performances continue, Fulham, Liverpool and Leicester are dispatched for maximum points, including 3 clean sheets out 4. A poor team performance in a humbling 0-3 home loss to Leeds United doesn’t take the shine off what has been a sensational few months for Ezri Konsa.
I know if you’re English and you have a few good games, the inevitable calls for international duty will follow, this happens at all clubs. Dean Smith has coached Tyrone Mings into an international player and Ezri Konsa has all the makings to follow in those footsteps and over time may even surpass Mings’s achievements. Konsa goes about his business discreetly, his performances can go unnoticed at times, especially with the likes of Grealish, McGinn and Barkley grabbing the headlines. As villa fans, we know we’ve got a player of huge potential which can be at the heart of our defence for many years to come.
UP. THE. VILLA.
I really appreciate you taking the time to read this. Thank you, Ryan.
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