I hate to play the ‘no attacking threat’ record again, but Villa once again offered… well, no attacking threat. Once again there was a single shot on target for Villa in the game, and even if the quality of crossing into the box from Alan Hutton, Charles N’Zogbia and co. had been of a better quality than what was on display for most of the game, it was hard to imagine any chances coming from that tactic.
Once a fully-fit Christian Benteke has returned maybe this will be different, but with Andi Weimann as the lone striker, a goal resulting from a cross looked about as likely as one resulting from Philippe Senderos running 50 yards with the ball at his feet.
Weimann does pop up with important goals from time to time – the Britannia on the opening day being the obvious example this season – but for the most part he just seems to offer a remarkable lack of quality and finesse (such as nearly tripping over his own feet when trying to shoot in the first half).
At the moment he often just tends to looks like that mate at school most of us had who claimed he got scouted by a professional team but who never provided any sort of proof. According to stats website Squawka, Benteke completed nearly double the amount of passes in his first 10 minutes back on the pitch than Weimann had in his hour of play.
To be fair to Weimann, a lone striker he is not and it was always going to be a tough day at the office for him considering the opposition.
Dr Jekyll and Mr N’Zogbia
Charles N’Zogbia too, where do you start? In the first half he was consistently the source of most of Villa’s attacks breaking down through poor decision-making or lack of quality in the final product. He can be so frustrating to watch, although not half as frustrating as Weimann.
Over the last few years he’s moved from a player who could turn nothing into something to a player who often turns something into nothing. He is obviously a confidence player though, and he grew into the game massively in the second half, making a couple of excellent driving forward runs, one which led to Kieran Richardson’s golden chance early in the second half and others which could have led to further clean-cut chances if he had got his head up in time.
He offers Villa a different dimension in attack and out wide, but needs to build up confidence and consistency before he can become the key player for the club which he should have been since his arrival over three-years-ago.
Although 10 points from seven games represents a decent start, there are several statistics revealing the dark side of Villa’s start. We have scored just four goals all season and have let in eight in the last three games, albeit against top, top sides. However, as mentioned above to judge Villa on these last three games would be harsh.
With every piece of good news comes a piece of bad news. As huge a boost as Christian Benteke’s return to the Villa side will be, Libor Kozák suffered a devastating blow with a training-ground recurrence of his training-ground broken leg injury which he suffered in January.
According to reports there is now a serious possibility that the Czech forward will go the whole of 2014 without having played a minute of competitive football – his last Villa appearance came in the 1-1 draw with Swansea City on 28 December 2013.
Although he divided opinion amongst Villa fans in his first half season at the club he certainly contributed to the matchday squad and would undoubtedly have a part to play this season. We hope for the best for him and the club, and that his Villa career can kick on when he eventually returns rather than fizzling out.
Tom’s Twitter – @tdnightingale
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