Thanks to Mr Cheese for his take on today’s game;
It was going to happen eventually, and now that pressure is relieved. The loosing band aid has been removed, it’s just a shame it was removed without so much as a fight but it wasn’t all bad news. Let’s look at the pro’s and cons….
The Villa game
Basically, heavy defending, shutting down key players and counter attacking works: look at the Liverpool game and the first 30 minutes of the Arsenal game.
What went wrong then?
If we are playing a system based on counter attacking, then we need to ensure that every opportunity we have in front of us is taken and it wasn’t. We had a total of 6 shots, 2 on target, 2 off and one of those on target was a Clark header.
Clark seemed to find himself a lot of space in the box from free kicks and corners and I believe that both on target came from him and let’s be honest, he should have netted the first but instead he offered up a poor header that didn’t really challenge Szczesny.
The surprising factor here is that when the final team sheet came through (after the virus situation which we will come to later on), we collectively sighed when we saw the devastating fact that Clark had been chosen ahead of Okore who acted as a nice bench warmer.
Yet Clark wasn’t the issue in the back four.
On the contrary, it was Cissokho and what a blunder of a game he just had.
He “achieved” 66% pass accuracy and for those who watched the game, I can’t have been the only one who felt concerned every time he lumped the ball up field in the hope that it would land to Villa feet. It didn’t and yet he continued with the dreadful “passes” which resulted in Arsenal possession.
We have a strategy where the play is built from the back going forward. This is a concern that I could see being an issue further down the line, it needs to be fixed and Cissokho needs to take a good long look at this game and then pick up where he left off at Anfield. The own goal summed up his performance today, but it happens, it’s how you proceed going forward that will be looked upon.
Richardson has yet to convince me.
He plays his role well when tracking back with players and closing them down and applying pressure, but his passing is simply not good enough for me. Although the overall performance was great and we won, I thought it during the Liverpool game where he seemed to over hit balls, or not hit them enough which broke our play going forward. Again, we rely on this as part of our strategy. How can we be a counter attacking team if the players can’t put the passes together?
Let’s put this into perspective.
Today Richardson had a 53% pass accuracy and 22 touches during his first half. He was then replaced by Grealish who had 23 touches and 100% pass accuracy. I’m going to throw this out there; I would like to see Grealish start next week ahead of Richardson. He offers more going forward, he reads the game well, he is creative and now I think he has earned his chance. For me, seeing Grealish get a 45 minute play window was one of the highlights this game.
Gabriel Agbonlahor, the lone striker.
His commitment, passion and pace can never be questioned, he loves the club and continues to show that week in, week out. The problem this week is that he had one shot all game. This isn’t a problem if a goal is the result, but that isn’t the case.
This all comes back to the build up play, or lack of it. It needs work.
The passes need to be better, the creativity needs to be better. The attacking seemed to come mostly from the defence.
Alan Hutton who has continued his fine form seemed to have a chance from a corner which he sent over. He had a good few headers against liverpool as well coming from corners, but they never threaten, they simply go over the bar.
You are doing brilliantly finding the space, but work on the heading or get players that can head on target in those positions!
To summarise, we had an awful four minute window which resulted in 3 goals being scored, our first loss of the premier league and a major hit to the confidence.
The issue was getting the ball forward, it just didn’t really happen. There was a spell at the beginning of the game, but without people getting onto the balls and attacking, it is futile and useless.
Aston Villa can not rely on the return of Benteke.
Collectively as a group, we need to score more and create more chances, Benteke or no Benteke.
I have faith in the club and the team. We are currently 3rd in the league and we do have positives to take from todays loss.
Keep the faith, keep the spirit.