It’s fair to say that Scott Hogan has yet to prove himself in an Aston Villa shirt so far. Although a sizeable fee of £9.45 million was handed over to Brentford back in January, Hogan’s impressive goalscoring record went a long way to justifying the price tag. In just a few short months, however, Hogan’s reputation as a free-scoring attacker has taken a severe hit.
A total of just one solitary league goal in twenty appearances makes for dismal reading. Many supporters have already lost patience with the stocky striker. For me though, he shouldn’t be written off just yet.
Yes, the stats don’t look good and a striker will always be judged on his goals but I think his performances offer hope that there will be a turnaround sooner rather than later.
The problem may be that time is not on his side. With the return from injury of last season’s top scorer Jonathan Kodjia and the emergence of the impressive youngster Keinan Davis, Hogan may have missed his big chance to prove himself.
After starting the season as the club’s main striker and being a default fixture in the starting eleven, game time is unlikely to be as plentiful over the next few games. Already we have seen Hogan reduced to substitute appearances due to Davis grabbing his first-team opportunity with both hands. With Kodjia now starting games as well and being given more and more minutes to reach peak match fitness, Hogan looks to have a tough time ahead.
The goal scoring stats would indicate that Hogan has been absolute tripe but his performances have generally been good. There is plenty of effort, endeavor and running off the ball. While that alone should no longer be enough to get into this Villa team (Alan Hutton anyone?), you can see the intelligence in his runs and that he is also creating chances for others.
Whilst last season we could perhaps look at an ineffective midfield for failing to supply him, Hogan has certainly been fed on a more regular basis so far this year and has had plenty of chances. If Scott’s game has been guilty of anything, it is a lack of clinical finishing. Yet there could be more to it than that.
I don’t like to lay it down to luck, but I do think Hogan has been massively ill-fated.
Many of his efforts at goal haven’t been bad. We’ve seen him slalom his way through a defence and try to poke the ball under and on rushing keeper only for it to be saved. On another day, they trickle under and go in. There have been other chances where I couldn’t fault his efforts on target and struggle to see what else he could’ve done.
Of course, his finishing at times has to be more clinical but I think he is massively unlucky not to be boasting two or three league goals so far.
He does, however, have three Carabao League Cup goals this season and we have seen examples of his marksmanship in the tie against Wigan at Villa Park. It may have been against League One opposition but we saw everything that Hogan offers that night.
He was a provider of chances. There were some excellent touches of the ball showcasing his skill. His first goal showed that he can be deadly arriving onto the ball in the box if we can get the ball into that position quickly, which is something we don’t do anywhere near enough with our often pedestrian build up. His second goal was an excellent volley on the turn which highlighted his prowess from distance also. League One opposition or not, that night showed there is a good player in there.
Injuries have not helped him at all and have been his biggest problem. By all accounts, it appears another spell on the sidelines could beckon after he departed during the defeat to Middlesbrough on Tuesday night. Although his reaction to being subbed suggested otherwise.
If so, this is the latest in a series of niggles and knocks that have seemed to plague Hogan since his arrival. A knee injury forced him off the pitch against Newcastle back in February which kept him out for a number of weeks. Hogan would also further depart the pitch due to knocks during games against Norwich City and Brighton & Hove Albion last season.
This terrible luck has continued again with forced withdrawals at Reading and now against Boro.
There are question marks over his stability thanks to huge layoffs due to two cruciate ligament injuries which have already robbed him of over two years of his career. For me, he has come back from those horrific injuries and proven himself at Brentford but he does certainly seem to be more prone to picking up knocks for some reason.
The stop-start nature of Hogan’s Villa career must be taken into consideration and it is hard to judge a player who you feel has never really been in peak condition.
if any further proof was needed of Hogan’s bad luck then just remember that he was the man that blocked Conor Hourihane’s goal-bound effort in the 0-0 encounter with Middlesbrough!
It is difficult to make a case for a striker that isn’t scoring but I think we have seen enough to suggest that Hogan could be a fantastic player for us. He certainly shouldn’t be written off yet.
It’s going to be tough for him to get the game time to prove himself, but it is a long season in this division and he will get opportunities and who knows, maybe his luck will take a turn for the better by the time those chances come his way.