In the last month or so, Aston Villa’s season has become distinctly stop-start in nature. With international breaks and postponements breaking up the fixtures, Dean Smith’s team has found it hard to find any rhythm and to iron out issues, as their early momentum has stuttered into a run of games that has seen them chalk up four losses in their last five games.
Only Liverpool and Manchester City average more shots per game than Villa, so far this season. While at the other end, in the last three games Villa have lost, eight of the nine shots on target they have given up, have resulted in goals (Villa registered 20 shots on target in the same three games).
Recently performances have been good, bar key moments – whether it be wasteful finishing or sloppy defending. The chances are being created, while the opposition are being limited at the other end, with Emiliano Martínez doing little more in games than picking the ball out of his net.
You could say Villa are doing 90% of their job well, but it’s the other 10% that is undermining everything, which the last game against West Ham was typical of.
“We did our debrief with the players after the West Ham game and it was a positive one because we played ever so well”, reflected Dean Smith, at the weekend, in an in-house club interview. “We were unlucky not to come away with three points – let alone a defeat.”
Conceding cheap goals against both Brighton and West Ham, in particular, has put them in a position where they’re needing three goals to win games. Overall, defensive organisation has been be heavily compromised by fatal lapses in concentration and this is the key point that Smith wanted to focus on after the Newcastle game was called off.
“We’ve spoken about the small details that would have helped us with the goals we conceded. At the end of the day, they were disappointing goals to concede,” reasoned Villa’s Head Coach.
Smith is also hoping giving his players the recent weekend off will help them recharge and focus – especially those who have spent time away on international duty.
“They need the rest, the recovery, the sleep and time at home with their families,” said Smith. “It gives everybody an opportunity to reset, reflect on what’s gone on and move forward.”
With the busy Christmas period to come, hopefully Villa are now primed to get some momentum going and get their newly discovered mojo back.