RIP the Back Three? What Went Wrong?
What on earth happened in that last 10 minutes against Wolves? Last season the Aston Villa backline had prided itself on 15 clean sheets, while its restructuring during lockdown kept Villa up the season before that. Against games in recent weeks against Chelsea, Spurs and Wolves, Dean Smith’s usage of three centre-backs has shown weakness at key times.
Is it just teething problems or should it have been a case of ‘if it ain’t broke…’?
You could argue that Smith went 3-5-2 as a way of tackling the stronger teams in the league and to make up for the injuries to wider attacking players like Leon Bailey and Bertrand Traore.
However, is it really a temporary formation? The signing of Axel Tuanzebe suggests playing three centre-backs was on Smith’s mind in pre-season, certainly as it allows him to also play two up top, hence the signing of Danny Ings. Would Tuanzebe really have signed just to play as back up to Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa? It’s doubtful, so you’d assume the three centre-back formation was certainly mentioned to him to persuade him to sign.
Now, MOMS isn’t exactly anti 3-5-2, considering it’s success at Old Trafford, which was far from a smash and grab result. At times the use of wing-backs has given Villa a better balance in midfield. It certainly has merits and perhaps Smith has been hamstrung by Villa’s injuries at the moment.
Against Everton, Smith was able to switch in and out of the formation when he brought on Leon Bailey and then Ashley Young to allow Villa to switch it up and win 3-0, after a flat first hour.
With his key players fit, maybe it offers Smith an in-game fluidity in formation that could bring success for this Villa team?
With the likes of Bailey, Traore and Sanson not match fit yet, Villa are stuttering a bit in terms of having a regular team on the pitch that can whip up some momentum. So, with them back, you’d expect Villa to finish the season stronger than they have started it.
That said, it’ll be a pivotal time in the upcoming fixtures before the end of the year to lay down the foundations for what can be achieved come the end of the season.
Certainly, it’s no time to panic.
My Old Man Said Episode 167
In the latest My Old Man Said podcast, we look at the 3-5-2 dilemma and what went wrong in the Wolves game to surrender such a comfortable lead with only 10 minutes to go. We highlight tell tale signs in previous games, that it’s perhaps not a formation that Villa have been comfortable seeing out games.
Who’s responsible for such poor game management in those last 10 minutes?
Also, in the show, we catch up on the latest Villa news, the Three Points, Media Muppets and much more.
Listen to Episode 167 Below
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