Sheffield United 1-0 Aston Villa – Lack of creativity

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El Ghazi could return against Newcastle

Aston Villa had an opportunity to make it two wins inside a week in Yorkshire but failed as they lost 1-0 to Sheffield United who finished the game with ten men.

I had a bad feeling about tonight’s game and I couldn’t put my finger on it. When the team news was announced, it did nothing to make me think otherwise. Dean Smith opted to stick with the same line-up that grounded out a win at Elland Road the weekend. The lack of creativity in the side was worrying.

Lack of threat

Villa dominated early proceedings without really looking a threat. John McGinn probably should have given Villa the lead when Ollie Watkins nodded down Bertrand Traore’s shot but the Scot fired wide with his weak foot.

Next up was Watkins who picked up the ball out wide, with very little options in the box he chose to shot but Aaron Ramsdale was able to parry the ball and then jump on the loose ball.

Villa had a shout for a penalty or a least a free-kick just before the half-hour mark when Kean Bryan stepped across Watkins with no effort to take the ball. VAR had a quick look before ruling no wrongdoing.

The home side took the lead after 31 minutes against the run of play. David McGoldrick played a crossfield pass out wide to George Baldock. The wing-back sends a ball across the box and McGoldrick gets on the end to give the hosts the lead.

No plan B

Some fans have accused Villa of a lack of plan B and that probably just about summed up their performance tonight. In a game they were screaming out for Captain Jack Grealish, no-one else was able to step up.

Smith opted to make no changes at half time and stuck with Marvelous Nakamba in the middle of the park. He was perfect for the Leeds game but this wasn’t the kind of game where we needed Nakamba.

Villa missed Jack Grealish against Sheffield United

Sheffield United were reduced to 10-men when Phil Jagielka brought down Anwar El Ghazi. The referee originally awarded a yellow card but on a VAR replay, he overturned his original decision and showed the former Everton man a red card.

It took Villa a further 12 minutes before making a change when Ross Barkley and Morgan Sanson were introduced to Jacob Ramsey and Nakamba.

It was full flow Villa but their lack of a plan B was really starting to hurt them. They continued to play the ball out wide and try and cross their way into getting themselves back in the game. The problem was the quality of crossing was poor and they struggled to beat the first man.

Traore had a chance late on when the ball fell to him in the six-yard box but he couldn’t connect clear with the ball as his effort was blocked by Ethan Ampadu.

Analysis

It was probably up there with Villa’s worst performances of the season. Villa got exactly what they deserved, nothing. Smiths tactics were questionable just days after he got it so right in the win over Leeds. Those on the pitch let themselves and their manager down.

Villa now have a local derby against Wolverhampton Wanderers the weekend.

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