What gets disturbing is when you consider that Villa have had only two shots on target or less in 11 of their games this season.
At Molineux this weekend, Aston Villa failed to register a single shot on target against Paul Lambert’s Wolves team. Ironically, it was the kind of stat that is straight out the locker of the former Villa boss. Lambert’s Villa team was notorious for long stretches without scoring a goal, once topping a 10-hour stretch over a two-month period. Leading up to Lambert’s sacking at Villa, the team had scored a mere 12 goals in the 25 games of the 2014/15 season.
A couple of seasons later and Villa despite the money they have spent still seem unable to put a team out on the field that can create chances, even at Championship level.
The Wolves misfire was the second time this season Villa had failed to hit the target in a game, after they registered a similar feat away at Ipswich. Again, this is the Championship.
What gets disturbing is when you consider that Villa have had only two shots on target or less in 11 of their games this season. That’s 39% of all their matches this season. It’s an appalling record.
Factor in that Villa have spent over £35m on strikers over the last two summer transfer windows, in the shape of Rudy Gestede, Jordan Ayew, Jonathan Kodjia and Ross McCormack, three of which who have scored 20-plus goals in a Championship season, and it’s a real concern.
Poor management, a poor midfield, poor teamwork? What’s to blame? It’s without doubt a combination of all three.
You only have to consider that Gestede, Kodjia and McCormack’s 20-plus goal seasons were all achieved with teams that didn’t exactly threaten the promotion places to highlight there is a fundamental issue at Villa.
Villa with their unbeaten home run at Villa Park at least have some hope, but even that flatters to deceive.
With six wins and six draws at Villa Park, 24 points actually means Villa have only the eighth best home record in the Championship. Not good enough for the play-offs. This tally’s up with them having the eighth best shots on target average at home in the league with 4.8.
The troubling statistic though is when it comes to their overall average shots on goals per home games, they rank 20th in the league for their efforts at Villa Park.
This is simply not good enough.
With the 19th ranking away form in the league, their actual shots on target average in away games, 2.6, is the worst in the Championship. That’s frightening for a team that spent around £55m in the summer.
Villa are just not creating enough good chances.
Interestingly something else that Villa are rock bottom of the league at is goals from set plays. Just three. The top set piece teams – Newcastle, Barnsley and Cardiff – each have 13 goals from set plays in comparison.
If Jack Grealish is one of the most fouled players in the league, shouldn’t Villa be taking advantage of this fact and working hard on their set plays? You only have to go back to Ashley Young’s contribution on set plays (and winning them) under Martin O’Neill to see the benefits they bring.
Also, how many more seasons of training and games will it take for Villa to become a threat from corners? It would certainly be interesting to see the statistics over the past two or three seasons for corners that haven’t beaten the first man.
One way that Villa have been able to score goals is from penalties, but their five this season (the third most in the league) actually makes up 19% of all Villa’s total 26 league goals this season.
It’s perhaps not the best way to rely on your goals coming.
There was a school of thought, that even MOMS subscribed to, that if Villa got a couple of capable midfielders in at the start of the January window to make them more dynamic going forward, Villa’s talented forwards would reap the rewards and Villa could storm up the league into the play-off spots and live happily ever after.
We’re now in the second half of the January window, the players who left for AFCON haven’t even been compensated for and Villa are actually sinking in the league. Now cut adrift from the play-off spots by 10 points, after having got as close as three points away under Bruce.
In terms of the shots on target stats, it’s not a case of Steve Bruce having to make up for the ills of the earlier games under Roberto Di Matteo. The Italian averaged slightly more shots on target with 3.72 compared to Bruce’s 3.53.
So, what we’re watching in terms of Villa going forward has differed very little.
The added resilience Bruce has brought to the team – although it could be argued that this maybe just a byproduct of players having more game time together anyway – counts for very little, if the team aren’t actually creating enough chances to win games.
As much as it pains to say this, based on these stats that only support what we’ve all seen with our own eyes, the diagnosis of this season is that no January window placebo is likely to get Villa promoted. It looks like the team will need a major operation in the summer to fix it for a renewed promotion attempt next season.
Nobody should give in just yet, but it’s not looking good at all.
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