The concrete sets, Benteke needs help and the regression of Villa’s tactics
Aston Villa’s dour 0 – 0 bore draw at Upton Park instigated fierce debate amongst fans on social media websites yesterday as ‘positive‘ and ‘negative’ accusations were made. Some fans justified yesterday’s dismal performance as just another example of Villa’s inconsistency and referred liberally to the fact that Villa had lost 1 – 0 to the Hammers last season. Alternatively, there were also those who gritted their teeth uncomfortably as Villa set up camp in West Ham’s half and showed little, if any, desire to maintain possession. Villa have now failed to score in four consecutive games. Unlucky? Unbalanced? It’s a matter of opinion. The debate will continue to rumble on in the coming weeks for sure…
Here’s what we learnt this week a Villa fans…
Tough task for Benteke
There have been times this season where I wondered why Villa didn’t sell Benteke. Paul Lambert was responsible for bringing to the club one of the best strikers I’ve seen in my life-time at Villa and he deserves immense credit for that. But you’d have thought that having one of the most coveted strikers in Europe might encourage Lambert to build a team around Benteke, or play to his strengths? Sadly, this isn’t the case. Benteke looks more and more isolated in each game and it really saddens me to see Villa misusing their best asset in this way. With no wingers and no attacking midfielder, the £40m striker is currently feeding off scraps and the odd cross from a full back. In my opinion its pretty shameful. Benteke enjoys being surrounded by creative players on international duty such as Hazard, Chadli, Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens. At Villa the imposing striker is surrounded by two quick strikers (who do not have the creativity of specialist wingers) and a lack of creativity through the middle. Watching Benteke yesterday I was reminded of one of Zlatan’s famous comments, “You bought a Ferrari, but you are driving it like a Fiat”
I have been impressed with Ron Vlaar’s performances in recent games. He’s still a little iffy when facing players that possess clever movement, but as a penalty box defender he is really excelling for Villa this season. Vlaar marshalled the back three reasonably well yesterday and made three tackles and five interceptions. Vlaar is one of the few Villa players who are playing better this season than last season, and the Dutch centre back has certainly been instrumental in Villa’s improved defensive performances. Vlaar stated earlier in the season that he was aiming to play well for Villa in the hope that he would be included in the Holland squad for the 2014 World Cup. Vlaar certainly seems likely to go to Brazil if he maintains his current form (and if his knees hold up). Vlaar has been included in Louis Van Gaal’s squad for the upcoming friendlies in November, and the Villa defender is certainly justifying his selection right now for the Oranje.
Why ‘park the bus’?
If Villa can press the ball against Arsenal and Chelsea, why not Hull and West Ham?
Lambert said yesterday, “There’s more to us than just counter attacking, we can play.” However, Villa have some of the worst possession stats in the Premier League this season, and had Lambert wanted to progress his possession based ground work from last season, then surely he would have concentrated on improving central midfield rather than buying two more strikers. The quicker Villa return to possession based, passing football (probably after January as we have no attacking midfield players) the better. (Keep you eyes open for more from Shelley on this subject).
I was pleased to see Matthew Lowton return to the side yesterday. He had a very composed game and could have had an assist with an excellent cross for Benteke late in the second half. Welcome back Matt!