In recent games we have seen the revolution of Icelandic midfielder Birkir ‘Thor‘ Bjarnason and it has been fantastic to watch on as he has made the central defensive midfield spot his own. For me, this is a very interesting position change for the man nicknamed Thor.
Thor signed for Villa back in January last year when he arrived from Swiss side FC Basel. Unfornatately he picked up an injury very early on in his Villa career and upon his return he appeared to be struggling to the English game. Although Steve Bruce game him a few chances, his work rate and determination wasnt enough so it is good to see the versatile midfielder turn things around.
Bjarnason’s strongest and most commonly played position is left-midfield, although it is known that he can be played at attacking midfield or even a bit further back in central-midfield.
Thor, who is 29-years old was thrown in at defensive midfield on his own as an injury to Glenn Whelan forced him off the pitch in the 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest a few weeks ago.
The substitution was questioned at the time due to Bjarnason’s lack of experience in the defensive-midfield position but it soon became apparent that he could be the man to start ahead of Whelan who hasnt been a favourite with the Villa Park faithful.
Bjarnason earned himself a starting spot in the next game in a 3-1 win against Barnsley where yet again he was an expert covering behind the midfield and blocking players from coming to hurt the Villa defence.
Since then he has solidified his position at defensive-midfield keeping Mile Jedinak and Whelan out of the team as well as new boy Axel Tuanzebe, who has said he can play in that position. All the numbers back up what we are watching on the pitch too!
Thor offers a lot more than what both Whelan and Jedinak play for me. While the later two prefer to be ball winning midfielders, sitting quite deep and keeping it simple on the ball, the Icelander adds that bit of flair and makes the team look much more composed and clam. He is capable of moving forward with the ball and quickly making passes out wide.
Despite the lack of experience in his new position Thor is surprisingly fantastic and winning the ball back for the team. He has been tackling people everywhere on the pitch and closing down the opposition when needs be.
I am pretty pleased that Bruce’s decision to try Bjarnason in his new role has paid off and long may it continue.