aston villa midfielders

 

Although fans have suggested, quite rightly, that Lowton and Antonio Luna look as if they could benefit from some protection, this also raises issues with a switch to 4-4-2. For a start, if, say, Gabby and Tonev were Villa’s first-choice wingers, how much protection are the fullbacks really going to get? Gabby was Villa’s threat at Carrow Road, and asking him to cover the fullback all game would drag him further back down the pitch, going some way to removing this threat.

And, to be blunt,do Villa really have good enough midfield players to get away with only playing two central midfielders? More and more teams are playing with three players in the middle of the park, and Villa’s midfield sometimes seems to get overrun with three, let alone two.

Even if a more defensive-minded player such as Yacouba Sylla played alongside Delph in a 4-4-2, the reality would be that both central midfielders would spend large parts of most games pinned back to protect the defence while the wingers attempted to get forward.

Ashley Westwood was fantastic last season, but there have been grumblings from fans about his performances this season. His play definitely has not been quite up to the standard he set in his first campaign at Villa, but perhaps the main shortcoming to Westwood’s game is the lack of protection he offers the defence, despite playing from relatively deep. If he was playing alongside Delph in a two-man midfield, Fabian would find himself doing all the dirty work.

However, if Westwood is removed from the starting XI on a long-term basis, Villa will have lost probably their best passer of the ball, and the man who often has a hand in the first stages of Villa’s moves, chances and goals. There may well have been a case for dropping the ex-Crewe man, but for me Villa’s strongest XI contains him – he just needs to refocus and sharpen up.

One of the best things about Delph this season has been his dynamism. He’s at his best when winning the ball and driving forward, something he is only able to do if he knows he has adequate midfield cover. Westwood does not possess any particularly strong defensive abilities, so if he and Delph both start in central midfield, a more defensive-minded player has to as well.

Karim El Ahmadi has made it difficult for Paul Lambert to justify naming a midfield three without him in it so far this season. Having drifted around the edges of the Villa first team for most of last season, the Moroccan has played a key part so far this time around. It was the combination of him, Delph and Westwood which drove Villa on to impressive performances against Arsenal and Chelsea in the opening week, and though he was dropped for the home defeat to Liverpool, Villa were greatly improved after his introduction with just over an hour gone. [Page 3]

7 COMMENTS

  1. Paulhedley – enjoying that first post I see.

    For me I would love to see a 4-2-3-1 but I don’t think we have the no. 10 to play in the middle of the three. I hope he addresses this next summer and brings back Carruthers who will deputise in this slot. I would then be looking at a holding 2 of Westwood/Sylla alongside Delph (backed up by Gary G).

    In the absence of a no. 10, I would play:
    —————– Westy (KEA back up) —————–
    Sylla (Bacuna back up) ———– Delph

    in a 3 man midfield.

    You need energy to compete in the EPL and KEA doesn’t bring that so the only role I see for him is back up to Westy. Sylla and Westy can interchange during a game as Sylla has a better engine but Westy is more deft when further forward.

    This is the three that was at the heart of the really good run at the back end of last season and I don’t really understand why it has been given a decent run so far this season?

  2. paulhedley Sounds like you’re advocating a 4-2-3-1 at home. Ordinarily, I’d think of that as a more defensive “away” formation, but for Villa, the 4-3-3 away provides that fast counter attack threat that has worked well for us, and our inability to break down opposition defenses at home does make the idea of a slower attack with 4 key players up front instead of three a pretty good idea.
    In the 4-2-3-1, I think our best 2-line would be Sylla and Bacuna, or perhaps Sylla and Lowton, keeping Bacuna in the right back spot (first clean sheet in ages with him there), but could also see using Bennett or Luna on that line, as they are both better supporting the offense than actually defending. Baker can play a better defensive left back, but I think so could Clark, and Clark is a better passer and better going forward than Baker, so I’d use Baker in the center with Vlaar and use Clark on the left.Delph needs work on picking out the right pass and executing it precisely. If we could develop that vision and incisive passing, combined with his energy and dribbling skill, he could be a top notch center attacking mid. As it is though, it’s safer to use him as one of the DMs or possibly as one of the wings in a 4-2-3-1, though with his sometimes rash tackling, I’d hesitate to assign him a DM role.
    I’d start like this in our next home match:
    Guzan
    Bacuna  Vlaar  Baker  Clark
    Sylla  Luna
    Agbonlahor   Westwood   Delph
    Kozak (assuming Benteke’s still out)
    and I’d be prepared to bring on Helenius for Westwood in the 60th minute and sub out Delph (Albrighton or Weimann) or Sylla (KEA or Lowton) in the event of a yellow card.

  3. Interesting piece which has inspired a first ever comment on the site from me.I think that what’s most important is to develop a tactical flexibility which allows PL to pick a team based on the opposition, rather than turning out the same midfield every game. Given the away form over the last 8 months, there seems little point in changing formation from 4-3-3 and picking from Delph, Sylla, Wwood and KEA depending on form and fitness. I personally think is potentially the best of the lot and offers a better defensive shield. However, for “easier” home games, having a midfield 2 (take your pick of the above 4) behind a more advanced 3 to include the very talented Helenius as a playmaker would give a greater threat. The 2 wide attackers would be slightly more withdrawn than at present to ensure that we’re not outnumbered in the middle, but with license to advance when in possession.

  4. Interesting piece which has inspired a first ever comment on the site from me.
    I think that what’s most important is to develop a tactical flexibility which allows PL to pick a team based on the opposition, rather than turning out the same midfield every game. Given the away form over the last 8 months, there seems little point in changing formation from 4-3-3 and picking from Delph, Sylla, Wwood and KEA depending on form and fitness. I personally think is potentially the best of the lot and offers better defensive

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