There’s a simple answer to why Villa keep throwing away three points at Villa Park, they haven’t got a settled and balanced midfield. Against Brentford for example, they pretty much started the match playing 4-2-4 with four out-and-out strikers on the pitch. If you’re not creating the chances and sticking them away, then your opposition is always likely to get a chance or two with so little defensive resistance.
Also, what’s with Villa defending so deep in matches? Also, they never leaving anybody up at the half-way line when they’re defending corners or set pieces – where’s the out ball for the counter?
Yes, injuries are holding Di Matteo’s Villa back and Ritchie De Laet’s season-long injury won’t help, but some of the Villa’s managers tactics have raised the odd eyebrow.
One win in seven hasn’t been an impressive start for Villa and it’s simply not good enough. Fortunes needs to change and quickly. In the meantime, here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Villa fans…
Against Forest Jonathan Kodjia, despite not scoring, gave a clear indication of what was to come with his all-action attacking style. We didn’t have to wait long for his debut goal, as he hit an unstoppable rocket to give Villa the lead against Brentford at Villa Park. As I mentioned on the MOMS podcast Kodjia reminds me of the lean long-limbed upright power of Stan Collymore in his Nottingham Forest days. He actually cuts a very similar silhouette and is able to score in all kinds of ways.
I’m almost certain Kodjia will blaze into double figures this season, the question is how many will he score beyond that?
2. Midfield Cavalry
Okay, it wasn’t great against Forest to see Tshibola and Adomah injured and Jedinak on the bench, and then against Brentford, to see Grealish join Tshibola and Adomah in the wings. But the bright side is those players will return and finally we will get to see the Aston Villa first team proper.
Hopefully, Adomah can add the balance and attacking intent down the right-hand side that Villa badly need and if Tshibola can transcend his sicknote reputation, then the midfield will toughen up and be more physically imposing straight away.
Still, as the injuries have shown, there’s still a lack of depth in the middle of the park, as Ashley Westwood and Gary Gardner have shown they can’t be trusted at the moment as a midfield duo even at Championship level.
3. Home Firepower…
…in the first 45 minutes anyway. Aston Villa top the table in terms of most shots in the first 45 minutes of home games – averaging 9.3 shots. In terms of the second half, they are only the 12th best team in the league at home for shots – averaging 8.
There lies the current problem with the team. Is it a matter of fitness? Or a matter of losing focus as the game progresses or tightening up defending a lead? Whatever it is, it needs to be fixed pronto.
Now the problem would be more serious if we weren’t creating chances ala the Lambert days, so there is still hope. Once players settle in and also return from injury, fortunes should change. It’s worth remembering, Di Matteo hasn’t had a chance to play his best first XI yet due to injuries.
4. Building a Fortress?
So far Villa are unbeaten at Villa Park. Yes, points are being thrown away in the final minutes almost weekly, but if Villa can avoid being beaten by Newcastle in the next home game, then there is the possibility of building a long unbeaten home run.
With draws surely turning into wins, it could be the bedrock of a change in fortune in terms of the club’s promotion challenge.
Here’s hoping anyway.
5. Better Off
When Villa were promoted in 1987-88 under Graham Taylor they had one point less than the current team after seven games. As long as Villa can finally start winning games -beating Newcastle would be a huge catalyst to kick-starting the season – then the team should start heading in the right direction in the league.