A Question of Aston Villa Midfielders
Probably the biggest decision that Paul Lambert faces in terms of his team selection at Aston Villa is that of the midfield.
In the over-hyped frenzy of the final days of the transfer window most Villa fans were crying out for a creative midfielder to be signed, and with that not having happened, Lambert needs to solve the issue which seems to be splitting opinion amongst Villa fans the most – just which combination of players at Aston Villa should be considered the club’s first-choice midfield, at least until January? After posing the question to Villa fans on Twitter and Facebook, here’s MOMS’ attempt to solve the puzzle.
The only name from the list of Aston Villa midfielders which looks certain at the moment to be on Villa’s teamsheet week-in week-out is that of Fabian Delph, whose outstanding start to the season has been much talked about, and who simply cannot be dropped after his early-season form.
Lambert has preferred for much of his time as Villa manager to rely on a 4-3-3 formation, and although he is surely certain at some point after Christian Benteke’s return from a hopefully brief injury lay-off to try out the combination of the Belgian and Kozák up front, it will take a dramatic success in this regard for him to alter his tactics on a more permanent basis.
And to be honest, although some Villa fans have advocated its use, going 4-4-2 could be more problematic than beneficial for Villa.
For a start, there is a dearth of genuine wide midfielders at the club. Although an unused substitute at Carrow Road, Marc Albrighton has been told he is free to leave on loan; and Charles N’Zogbia is a long-term injury absentee but seems unlikely to be involved in Lambert’s plans anyway having been demoted to the regions of the Bomb Squad over the summer.
Assuming that 4-4-2 would be to fit in a partnership of Benteke and Kozák, Gabby Agbonlahor could well be utilised on the wing, a move which has both paid off and backfired in the past. Leandro Bacuna could be played wide at a stretch (although he appears to fancy himself as more of a box-to-box midfielder), but given the useful performance he put in at right-back in Matt Lowton’s absence at Carrow Road on Saturday, it seems likely that he may find himself used as a deputy in a variety of positions throughout the season.
Aleksandar Tonev’s performance on Saturday was simply not good enough. He drifted through the game without leaving any real mark on it, and although it’s always nice to see a player at Villa who fancies a shot, he needs serious work on his decision-making, as he seemed to have no plan other than to let fly speculatively.
Despite his ineffective display, Tonev should be considered as a long-term option when teams need breaking down at home or when there is space to exploit on the counter away from home, as given time, and with the right coaching, the Bulgarian has the feel of a player who possesses the potential to do a better job in a central creative role, spearheading the midfield, than out wide. [Page 2]