Aston Villa takes on Ipswich Town tomorrow and has started their season with three wins from three in all competitions following their late win away to Yeovil Town in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday evening. As happy as Villa fans are to be sitting on maximum points in the league and through to the next round of the cup, many are feeling that recent performances have left a lot to be desired.
Ipswich started the season as one of the favourites to drop into League One and so far they have proved the bookmakers right. The Tractor Boys started the campaign with a 2-2 draw at home to newly promoted Blackburn Rovers following a 91st minute equaliser from new signing Tayo Edun, a game they would have loved to take three points from. They followed this result up with a 1-0 loss to another newly promoted in the form of Rotherham, a side who bookmakers had as the favourite for relegation. If Ipswich fans thought that was it and it couldn’t get any worse, the Suffolk side made the near 5 hour trek across the country to face League Two outfit Exeter City, who currently sit 4th in league 2, only to lose 4-2 on penalties after the score ended 1-1 after 90 minutes.
This is far from the start that new manager, Paul Hurt would’ve hoped for after joining during the off season after nearly completing a miracle of guiding Shrewsbury Town into the Championship.
Ipswich’s big problem this season is that they have lost there four top goal scorers from last season without really replacing them. Top scorer, Martyn Waghorn who scored 16 goals an picked up 11 assists last term signed for Derby towards the end of the season, Joe Garner who scored 10 goals last season has joined Wigan, Bersant Celina scored 7 goals whilst on loan from Manchester City but has joined Swansea on a permanent deal whilst David McGoldrick scored 6 goals and joined Sheffield United on a free transfer. Considering that Ipswich only scored 57 goals last season and these players scored 39 of them, thats a huge loss in their squad that could ultimately lose them there championship place come May next year.
Although they haven’t properly replaced the strikers they’ve lost, one reason that Ipswich are not getting the results may ironically be down to the signings they have made. During the off season, Hurst made 9 signings including former Villan Janoi Donacien. That is a lot of players to bring in during one transfer window especially considering there is a new manager as well.
The Big Match
Ipswich will have a tough task of keeping Villa’s new midfield partnership of John McGinn and Jack Grealish quiet after the pair greatly impressed Villa fans with there performances against Wigan. The pair completed an impressive 5 key passes each against the Latics with Grealish boasting an impressive 87% pass accuracy and John McGinn not far behind with 81% of his passes reaching the intended target. Grealish completed 6 dribbles and was fouled 4 times making him the most fouled player in the division. This trend is expected to continue as it is unlikely that Ipswich will be able to contain a player of Grealish’s quality who is far to good for this division.
So far this season, Ipswich have won the most aerial duels in the division winning 37.5 per game. If his lack of impact on the game wasn’t enough to convince Bruce that Rushian Hepburn-Murphy isn’t quite ready for first team football yet, that statistic won’t do the youngster any favours. To combat this, Villa should use the sublime arsenal of passing possessed by the previously mentioned midfield maestros to their advantage and play balls through type Ipswich midfield and backline for Villa’s attackers to run onto.
At the other end of the field for Villa, Orjan Nyland, who had a mixed debut last weekend will be pleased as well. Ipswich have registered the second fewest shots on target this season with just 3 shots per game being accurate compared Aston Villa have the 5th most shots on target with 5.5 per game. If this trend continues, it could be just what Bruce’s new Norwegian keeper needs to settle in and build his confidence. If he can walk away from Portman Road with a clean sheet under his belt then that will do him the world of good.
Keinan Davis and Scott Hogan have once again been ruled out. Bruce stated that Davis has had a hip injury that has affected him since March and is becoming a real cause for concern.
He stated that Hogan hasn’t had a pre-season but he is starting to make steady progress.