Okay, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the importance of goals in football. Goals are the bread and butter of the game, they make the difference between winning and losing and they are what excites the crowds.
Coping with the step up
For a team like Villa who has just risen to a higher tier, there is always a danger that the goals can dry up. The step-up in quality can turn a high-scoring attacking team into a defensive outfit who are so concerned about conceding that they become blunt going forward.
When assessing a team’s chances of surviving their first year back in the top flight, it can be useful to look at how effective they are at scoring goals going forward while shutting out the opposition at the back. It is not important to score lots of goals but a team must score enough to keep their heads above water. Villa are currently fourth favourites to go down according to the football betting at Space Casino, so how do they compare to their rivals?
Seventh-best strike rate in the league
A quick look at the stats during the November international break showed that only six teams in the Premier League (Manchester City, Leicester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley) had scored more goals than Dean Smith’s men.
With at least one goal in nine of the 12 games they had played, Villa was scoring enough to keep their goal difference at a reasonable -3, compared to the -15, -18 and -17 of Watford, Southampton and Norwich City respectively.
In terms of goals conceded, they are exactly where they should be with the 17th most vulnerable defence in the league. So it is clear, that the number of goals they are scoring could be the key to their survival.
The good news is that Villa are not relying on one prolific striker to provide all their goals. So far, 12 of their 17 strikes have come from six different midfielder players, four have come from Brazilian striker Wesley and just one has come from defence.
And it is this strength in midfield, driven by promotion hero John McGinn, which sets the team apart from the other relegation candidates. West Ham United have scored just three goals from the middle of the park. Watford’s midfield has chipped in with just four goals from a total of eight. Southampton’s central players have contributed five. And Norwich City’s midfielders have just four goals between them.
— Premier League (@premierleague) November 10, 2019
Consistency now important
In the absence of a front line that can score for fun, goals from the central area are crucial and this is where Dean Smith’s outfit has an advantage over their rivals. Of course, they need to maintain this performance over the course of the season, while also keeping a lid on things at the back where a loss on confidence can quickly turn a functional defence into an exposed one. If Villa can keep doing what they are doing, they should accumulate enough points to be clear of danger come May.