Robert Snodgrass: Aston Villa's unsung hero
Two players quickly spring to mind whenever Aston Villa's incredible resurgence is discussed: John Terry and Albert Adomah. While Terry gets the job done at the back, Adomah executes in attack with aplomb. However, there's a third man quietly shoving an equal weight in the West Midlands. Midfielder Robert Snodgrass.
Villa appear destined for a Premier League return after two years in Championship wilderness. Having savoured almost the entirety of their history with the elites, they've seemed like misfits in the second tier. Especially as they flaunt such an intimidating trophy haul. A combined 20 domestic and two European honours are rivalled by only several teams in English football.
Wolverhampton Wanderers are cruising the Championship this season. Eleven points atop, Wolves parade both the division's most lethal attack and toughest backline. Nothing can seemingly hurt Nuno Espirito's team. Just beneath, however, lies Derby County and Villa a single point apart. Owing to the latter's recent sensational run of form, they are favourites to claim the second automatic promotion spot.
The Villans are gathering some kind of hair-raising momentum after six victories on the trot. They're proving a well-balanced and disciplined side. Particularly in the season's second stanza. Despite not having an in-form striker for much of the campaign, Steve Bruce's men have hit 46 goals – only three Championship sides have fared better. Adomah has notched over a quarter of Villa's strikes and set up a further three. That's phenomenal for any wide player; the misfiring Cristiano Ronaldo would be proud of those numbers.
At the other end of the pitch, there's John Terry. His footprints have been visible since trading London for West Midlands last summer. With the Villans shipping in only 27 goals this campaign - the division's fourth-best defence - it shows Terry's influence around Villa Park. Jurgen Klopp needs some tips from the ex-Chelsea skipper.
Unsurprisingly, the indispensable pair, Adomah and Terry, have both been singled out for praise in recent months.
Without much fanfare, however, Snodgrass is making similar strides this season. If not more. Seven strikes, eight assists and half a dozen 'man-of-the-match' awards attest to that. No Villa player has created more. In his last six league outings, the Scotland international has yielded four assists and the same number of goals, including the winners in slim victories over fellow promotion hopefuls Middlesbrough and Sheffield United.
In Villa's 3-2 victory over Burton Albion on Saturday, Snodgrass was involved in two goals. He played a sublime through ball for Adomah to tee up Scott Hogan for the opener and then flighted over a measured cross for the Ghanaian to add a second.
Such has been the case for most of the campaign - a frightful combination between Snodgrass and Adomah has produced four goals. The Scot's near perfect pinpoint passes, which could go through a needle's eye, have been pivotal in splitting opposition defences.
Yet, it is Snodgrass' ability to produce such mastery every week while playing through the pain barrier that deserves commendation. He has been plagued by a sore groin, which forced his early withdrawal last week. But that hasn't affected his output on the pitch. Unlike his previous attempt at West Ham United, the results are positive.
Should Snodgrass continue his spectacular displays until the season's end, some of the big guns may come knocking.