Aston Villa’s Counter Attack Prowess
Considering Paul Lambert’s ethos of turning Aston Villa into a possession-focused attacking team, it’s perhaps surprising to see Villa’s success on the counter-attack. The above table even shows Villa leading the Premiership in the percentage of goals stemming from the counter, which seems to suggest Lambert’s team very much mirrors the intentions of the Martin O’Neil managed Villa team of a few seasons ago. Villa’s success then was built on a sturdy defence and lighting-fast counter attacks, spear-headed by two wingers in the shape of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing, and the speed upfront of Gabriel Agbonlahor.
It was a tactic that while worked wonders away from home, was limited when it came to breaking teams down at Villa Park. Many accused O’Neil of being one-dimensional and lacking in a ‘Plan B’.
Aside from the emphatic demolition job of Sunderland at Villa Park, Villa have been largely more comfortable away from home this term too. Yet, Villa have a far from sturdy defence (they’ve conceded the most goals away of any team in the league) and Lambert hasn’t been employing out-and-out wingers.
It’s a different dynamic entirely.
As Villa’s possession game has built up during the season and the young players have grown in confidence and directness, rather than counter-attacks stemming from the prolonged absorbing of the opposition’s pressure, their counters are formed by breaking-up play and swift distribution to the forward three of Gabby, Benteke and Weimann, who inter-link to create chances. Having three forwards who all have pace and can play the channels with aplomb, has the advantage of having more clinical finishers on duty when it comes to taking chances.
The table below shows that Villa have been the most clinical team in the league when it comes to taking their chances created on the counter.
In a nutshell, Lambert’s attack-minded approach is increasingly showing signs of being both effective and clinical. Hopefully, over the pre-season, he’ll be able to address the defensive side of the team. If successful, next season, Villa supporters could swiftly have a team to be really proud of again. UTV
Tables courtesy of the EPLindex website
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