At the start of the season, Aston Villa loaned in two top young Premier League prospects in Tammy Abraham from Chelsea and Axel Tuanzebe from Manchester United. It’s usually fairly safe to loan players from teams which are expected to be challenging for the title, or at least a place in the Champions League, as they boast squads that are strong enough to handle the demands of a packed campaign, but perhaps not this time.
While Chelsea is playing attractive football and picking up wins, and Manchester United are resurging under new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, both have dire needs in their team.
For the Blues, the primary element lacking is a clinical goalscorer as Alvaro Morata continues to flop and Olivier Giroud plays as a centre-forward rather than a top striker. The Red Devils’ problems are at the other end of the pitch, with the defence being woeful on many occasions this season. The situation is so dismal at times that veteran wingers Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia perform like the rest of the back-four.
With both teams’ most obvious needs being in the roles that their two loanees to Aston Villa fulfil, it’s understandable why some foresaw some recalls this winter.
United won’t be spending in January
In some ways, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a free hit as the on-loan manager of Manchester United, but in other ways, this is his audition to land his dream job, so he needs to pull the Red Devils from the depths to have a successful campaign. The Norwegian has stated that he doesn’t expect the club to sign him any new players in the January window, but the team certainly needs reinforcements if he’s to finish the season well.
One of the best ways for him to prove his ability to the board is to progress in the Champions League. Not only does the team need to perform well this season, but they also need to qualify for it next season. Unfortunately for Solskjaer, they drew the unenviable task of taking on Paris Saint-Germain, a team which United are at 27/10 to qualify against at Betfair. The best way to improve the team’s chances against such a formidable foe is by shoring up the defence.
If transfers aren’t on the table, Solskjaer could have turned to Axel Tuanzebe, who continues to impress for Villa in the Championship. But, given that the young centre-back is developing well, United will most likely leave him at B6.
Chelsea need a striker
At the 21-game mark, Chelsea sat fourth in the Premier League but had scored at least five fewer goals than any team in the top six. The defence has held up well in most games, helping them to climb the table, but there’s a sense of missed opportunity about the team: they’re playing great football and could have won far more games if they had a clinical striker.
Tammy Abraham’s 16 goals in 20 games outpace Chelsea’s top scorers of Eden Hazard with 12 goals in 26 games and Morata with nine goals in 24 games, but, of course, they’re playing at different levels of the game. Abraham is a very talented striker who is in red-hot form. If given a good run of games as a pure striker for Chelsea, his ability to find the back of the net could shine through, especially as he’ll have top providers in Eden Hazard, Willian, Marcos Alonso, and Ross Barkley around him.
Luckily for Villa, the only debate concerning Abraham’s departure – a move to Wolverhampton Wanderers for the rest of the season has been put to rest, with the striker committing the rest of the season to the Claret and Blue.
Despite two Premier League titans needing players very much in the mould of those loaned to Aston Villa, the Championship club can rest easy in the knowledge that they’ll most likely keep a hold of the top talents for the remainder of the campaign.