At the start of April, I wrote an article entitled ‘Is A Lack of Width Leading to a Lack of Creativity?’ I don’t feel that there is any need for me to explain what the piece was about.
With the departure of Albrighton early on in the transfer window, it looked like Lambert still wasn’t overly fond of wide men and that another year of watching very narrow football lay ahead for Villa fans. However, judging from pre-season and the Villans’ opening Premier League match against Stoke City, I think narrow football may be avoided.
This summer, Lambert bought Kieran Richardson from the relegated Fulham. Richardson is known for playing on the left wing and can also play as a left wing back. This signing instantly added more width, pace and creativity to our side. We have also seen Lambert sign the very experienced Joe Cole. Cole made a name for himself at West Ham United and Chelsea for being a creative winger who had a bit of flare. Although some believe that the former England international is past it now, he will no doubt have many words of wisdom to pass on to our young players and could prove to be a constant source of guidance to our wingers. With the likes of Leandro Bacuna, Charles N’Zogbia and Jack Grealish already at the club, it looks like we have a lot of promise and potential in the wide areas and can really pose a threat when moving down the wings.
At the Britannia on Saturday, the Villans lined up in a 4-5-1 formation. We had two out and out wingers on the pitch in N’Zogbia and Richardson but Weimann seemd to be playing on the left hand side, with Richardson starting in the attacking midfield role. Along with these options we had Agbonlahor up front, who is always willing to run the channels, allowing space in the centre for the likes of Weimann, N’Zogbia, Richardson and Delph to attack. Cissokho and Hutton also put in great performances not just defensively but also in getting down the wings and overlapping the wide midfielders.
As much as this did create more chances and more opportunities than we saw in a lot of matches last season, there still wasn’t an awful lot of them. Things can only improve now though: the more the side plays, the more the play should improve. We have gotten off to a great start and with the likes of Beneteke and Kozak, who will attack crosses all day long, yet to return to the side things can only get better.