The right-back position has been Steve Bruce’s sticking point since his arrival in B6. James Bree, Richie de Laet, Alan Hutton have all had a spell there. Yet, it was the versatile right-sided player, Ahmed Elmohamady who has been holding down a regular place there. Since his introduction to the position, the right back issue had seemingly been solved with Bruce even allowing de Laet, the opportunity to leave.
Credit has to go to Elmohamady who hasn’t complained about playing in a more defensive role on the right. He has performed admirably and has to be one of the unsung heroes of the team. Part of his qualities lies in his versatility and his abilities are also impressive in a more advanced position which is where his future role may lie with the club.
However, with Axel Tuanzebe’s arrival, it seems that the right back position may once again, be up for grabs. The Manchester United loanee may well be destined to a centre-back berth in years to come but with two established professionals in that position, he is unlikely to oust either James Chester or John Terry from the team. Being young, dynamic and powerful he looks a good bet to make the right-back position his own.
Last Saturday gave us a view into Bruce’s vision for the remainder of the season. When Tuanzebe came in for Snodgrass, he slotted in at right back, pushing Elmohamady into the right midfield slot. It looks as though Tuanzebe’s education at Villa Park will involve him occupying that position for the rest of the season. This would then allow Elmohamady to provide competition to Snodgrass and Adomah who have excelled this season.
With Andre Green only having recently returned from injury, competition is limited in wide positions. There are 16 games left and having options to cover for tiring members of the squad will be crucial if we are to sustain our promotion push. This is where squad rotation will be vital to where we finish in May. Our match winners now all have steady alternatives. Grabban, Onomah, Elmohamady, Green and Davis can all push for a first-team spot and give exciting options from the bench.
The business end of the season is upon us and now it is time for the Villa players to step up when needed, perform well and be relied upon. Just like Elmohamady.