Debut to Forget
Aston Villa’s midweek trip to Griffin Park ended in defeat as Brentford won comfortably 3-0. Debutants such as Hourihane and Bjarnason were thrown in with new signing Lansbury which became a recipe for disaster. The forwards were stranded and the defence became overburdened with attacks which inevitably led to miserable night in London.
Bruce’s men have to look forget and look forward as the fixture come thick and fast. A visit to The City Ground awaits where Nottingham Forest were victorious in midweek. Multiple loan signings were made on deadline day for the Reds giving them a new lease on life in the Championship.
Villa remain not only one of the lowest scoring teams in the Championship, but in the whole Football League. One goal in their last five away matches is disgraceful and epitomises how low Villa have fallen. With all of the new recruits arriving just in time for this fixture, Villa’s previous away form can become a distant memory if this breath of fresh air can pick up the three points.
Here’s three ways of making it happen…
Change of Plan
Throughout the entire campaign, a midfield three has been what many Villa fans wanted. Enough men to cover the middle of the park to effectively couple the defence and attack. The midfield two that was often deployed would be so easily cut through. Finally, with all of the January signings, Villa have the personnel to field a midfield three which provides balance.
Unfortunately, a midfield trio of Lansbury, Hourihane and Bjarnason resulted in a miserable performance against Brentford. This left Kodjia up front to chase loose balls all night with no help around him. The suggestion to play two up top may leave Villa fans shaking in fear as memories of McCormack and Agbonlahor flood their minds; but a collective sigh of relief can be made as Kodjia can now be partnered with deadline day signing Scott Hogan.
Goals have clearly been the problem for Villa’s Championship travels, so playing a front two containing a duo of the very best strikers that the league has to offer can only translate in results. Kodjia using his impressive ball control and technique to draw defenders out of position and weasel his way round them as the pacey Scott Hogan plays off of the last man. What could possibly go wrong?
With the AFCON tournament now at the final stages, Villa managed to get back Kodjia, however Nottingham Forest also managed to reclaim Britt Assombalonga. Forest’s striker problems were emphasised when they gambled on the out of form Ross McCormack on deadline day. Nicklas Bendnter was the best solution at one point for the Reds, which shows how severe the problem really was.
Despite the poor strikers in the ranks at The City Ground, one gem remains in Assombalonga and he proved that as he bagged a brace in Forest’s 2-0 win in midweek. Baker and Chester clearly struggled on Tuesday night to deal with fairly mobile strikers as Lasse Vibe turned the screw on Villa’s dying promotion hopes.
Assombalonga possesses the strength and pace to once again leave Villa’s defence in a quivering mess for the second time in a week. With the poor away record and pathetic performance against Brentford, Bruce needs to play a deeper defensive line and make sure that Assombalonga is specifically man marked out of the game on Saturday night.
Unleash the Breest
Against Brentford, Alan Hutton had one last chance to prove himself after he had a few games where he didn’t embarrass everyone wearing claret and blue. Unfortunately. he proved all of his critics right by being one of the main factors in Villa’s demise on Tuesday.
Fortunately for Villa fans, the January transfer window has left a new face waiting in the wings who should finally receive his debut. James Bree who signed from Barnsley has the terrifying task of having to live up to the expectations Hutton has left behind. As young as Bree is, the bar has been set so low for him, it is almost impossible for Villa to take a step back taking a chance on him.
Forest have started to experiment with their line-ups and it is possible that young Ben Osborn could play at left-midfield. Only being 22-years-old himself, the experience gap shouldn’t be noticeable and Osborn shouldn’t cause much trouble as he would be being played in an unfamiliar position.
Check out the latest MOMS Podcast episode discussing the transfer turnaround and more:
Follow Richard on Twitter, here: @_RichardAVFC