The Defensive Debate

Tuanzebe impressed

Dean Smith signed Tyrone Mings on transfer deadline to strengthen the defence. He also chose to recall Tommy Elphick from his loan spell at Hull giving him 7 defensive options. I am not saying that all 7 defenders are good enough but it is nice to finally have some options.

Let’s take a look at the options we have in each position should he play a flat back four.


We will start with the left back position. Smith probably doesn’t have as many options as he would like in this position. The only natural left-back is Neil Taylor. New signing, Mings can play in this position if needed but judging by his performance against Reading, Smith will probably want to keep him in the middle.

I know not many are big fans of Taylor but statistically, he has been our best defender so far this season. The Welshman averages 1.7 tackles per game. The next highest defender is Axel Tuanzebe with 1.2.

His weakness is obviously attacking but it is something we should be able to work with until the summer.


Smith has four centre-backs to choose from. James Chester, Tuanzebe, Mings and Elphick (once they are all fit).

Chester is just one of our defensive optionsChester has been known as Mr Consistent since signing for Villa in 2016. This season he has struggled, however. He has struggled with the simplest of passing and in some cases the basics when it comes to defensive work. You may argue he has struggled with an ongoing injury or is he struggling in the Smith system?

Elphick has been pretty solid since returning from his loan spell with Hull. His pace holds him back though and he tends to struggle with strikers with pace. It will be interesting to see how his future unfolds with the 31-year-old out of contract in the summer.

Tuanzebe has impressed since signing on-loan from Manchester United in the summer. He has been a big miss since the metatarsal injury he picked up against Leeds. Smith stated on New Year day that he was 8-10 weeks away from a return so we will be without him until at least mid-March.

Although Mings has only played one game, he did impress. He bought some calmness to a defence that has looked shaky all season. Of course, it was only one game but I am hopeful that we can build on this.


Arguably the weakest area of the back four. Smith has the option of either Alan Hutton or Ahmed Elmohammady. He has opted for Hutton of late after some very poor performances from Emo.

Hutton has the passion but doesn’t get back once he gets forward leaving us exposed. It is no wonder that Smith opted to sign Frédéric Guilbert. It is just a shame he won’t be available until the summer.


For me, when everyone is fit and available I would opt for Mings and Tuanzebe in the middle. They are the quicker and younger of the central options. Taylor’s position is almost guaranteed at left back while Hutton will play until Elmo proves to Smith he deserves to start.

Who would you play in central defence when everyone is back fit? And would you go for Hutton or Elmo? Have your say in the comments section down below.


  1. Personally, I don’t look at statistics. For me,Taylor is shocking,both defending and attacking. He looks like a player who knows that his days are numbered. And so they should be. He’s truly awful.
    There seems to be no mention of Hause in your article. Because to me,Deano seems to be building for a future with a back 3.
    Young,mobile players who can both defend doggedly and play football.
    Wolves did it last season and look how it’s served them. It’s the way teams play now and string 5 in midfield,where games are won and lost.
    Our midfield has some nice ball players in it,but most of them lack pace and a bit of steel.
    So for me it would be bye-bye to Whelan,Jedinak,Adomah, Bjarnasson, and Hourihane at the end of this season and hello to Maupay,Hayden,Reach and Lol ley.
    Vive Ie revolution.


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