Aston Villa Football Club has seen wholesale changes this summer with numerous players leaving and seven others joining during a hectic window. However, the performances are still lacking, as we saw during Saturday’s defeat to Bristol City.
Many will blame the eleven men on the pitch for their performances, which were not good enough, but there is an issue that needs to be addressed.
I’ve already said it countless times: the midfield is being permeated week in, week out. We are lacking depth in the centre of the park, with a number of the goals conceded coming through a lightweight midfield.
We have three good midfielders in Ashley Westwood, Aaron Tshibola and Mile Jedinak and I believe we could be quite fruitful if we play all three simultaneously in a 4-1-4-1 formation. The graphic below shows how I envisage the midfield three:
The system could well be flawed if we do not have wingers who are willing to track back but playing Jedinak in a holding role will give Tshibola and Westwood much more freedom, whether it be to go forward or to track back to fill in the gaps created by playing wingers higher up.
As for the wingers, there are plenty of options with Jack Grealish on song and Roberto Di Matteo said to be close to capturing Albert Adomah. We also have Jordan Ayew, who has been deployed out wide a lot so far this season, and the likes of André Green in the ranks. Then there’s Ross McCormack, a striker who can also play on the wing.
The key issue is the lightweight midfield and how that can be solved.
I believe by having a three-man midfield with Jedinak as a sitting man we could give the likes of Grealish more room to roam, which would benefit the rest of the side.
Furthermore, Jedinak is a brick wall so putting him in front of Tommy Elphick and James Chester would allow him to dictate play as well as be the extra force we need to prevent goals coming from positions they shouldn’t be.
Bristol City’s second goal on Saturday came through the midfielders being swamped and out of position. There is a simple imbalance in the centre of midfield and I hope that Roberto Di Matteo realises that.
I do not think there is any need to panic at the moment. The new players still need to knit. When these players do, it could be a special team, although not with two midfielders in the centre of the park. Going forward, we are not clinical enough but that issue should be resolved before the window shuts.
Mile Jedinak is a vital figure to have in midfield. Crystal Palace fans say his best role is sitting in front of the defence so let’s play him there.
Of course, we don’t know what will happen in the final few days of the transfer window. Once it shuts, we can ascertain how well a system with a three-man midfield could work but I certainly believe it will be beneficial to the Villans’ promotion hopes.