Saturday’s narrow 0-1 defeat to Stoke City at home left a bitter taste in the mouths of Villa fans. The result left the Villans in eighteenth place in the league, four points adrift of safety. Unfortunately, it was just one of those days and Stoke carved out an opportunity and struck first in the second half. Marko Arnautovic’s strike was enough for the visiting side to take all three points.

So, after watching the game again, what have we, and possibly Tim Sherwood, learned about the team?

Joleon Lescott needs to be dropped

Unfortunately, since Lescott signed for the club, the Villans have been shipping goals for fun. In his first four games, the Villa boys have conceded eight goals, including three against Leicester and three against Liverpool.

I was a big fan of Lescott but now I fear the thirty-three-year-old is now starting to show his age. Lescott’s game was never about pace; it was more to do with strength and good reading of the game. However, since his move to Aston Villa, his partner Micah Richards has been the stand-out performer. The only problem is that Lescott has not been the solid partner Richards has been crying out for since the season began.

Jores Okore will make a big difference to Aston Villa’s defence, while Ciaran Clark is unlucky to have lost his place to Lescott.

I feel it was wrong to take Ciaran Clark out of the starting line-up in order for Lescott to play. I can understand why Sherwood did it, however: Lescott was a new signing for the club and Richards and Lescott have played together in the past so it seemed like those players could click and become a solid partnership but Clark needs to be reinstated at centre-back and Jores Okore’s return to full match fitness cannot come soon enough. I feel that a partnership of Micah Richards and Jores Okore could very well be an exceptional centre back pairing. Both defenders are extremely quick, strong and are very comfortable with the ball at their feet.

Sherwood still doesn’t know what his best team is

The gaffer spoke out after the Stoke City game and confirmed that he still isn’t sure what his first XI is. He’s been chopping and changing the team in order to find the correct balance of defensive competency and attacking threat from his team:

“I have to find the right ingredients to put them on the pitch at the right time against the opposition we play and try and get a spark. I am still searching for that.

At the moment it isn’t there.

I keep changing the systems and changing the formations in search of that. On Saturday against Stoke it wasn’t there. We need to find it.”

It’s for that reason that the team hasn’t been able to find fluidity in its play. We’ve seen this team play some great football at times – movement on and off the ball has sometimes been excellent and we’ve kept possession really well. That’s the problem – it’s got to happen consistently, not just in short spells. Sherwood is still learning as a manager and he will make mistakes along the way. Nevertheless, the boss fully recognises that his honeymoon period is well and truly over.

Carles Gil has to start whenever possible

The little Spanish maestro has to be starting whenever he’s fit to play, in my opinion. For years, we’ve been crying out for a player of true class and I firmly believe he is one of those players. He may be one of those players who may not “track back” enough but we should be able to accommodate for that with the squad we have. For what it’s worth, I’ve seen Gil track back plenty of times to help his team so the lack of effort is a non-argument.

Carles Gil can make things happen for Villa in the final third but he needs more time on the pitch

He’s a player who always wants the ball, regardless of where he is on the pitch. His ability to drop a shoulder and move away from his marker with ease is a trait that some players would kill to have. He’s an exciting player and can definitely provide that ‘missing spark’ Sherwood spoke about at the weekend. For once, I’d like to see a midfield attacking trio of Jack Grealish, Carles Gil and Adama Traoré unleashed to see how they fare.



Jordan Ayew has found his mojo

Ever since his impressive cameo against Birmingham City a few weeks ago, Ayew has looked like a different player. A tricky player to tackle, Ayew has shown that he can be extremely effective when given the ball in the opposition’s final third. After underwhelming performances at the start of his Villa career, he is finally showing confidence on the ball and wants to make things happen. I believe that he needs to be given an opportunity to play and that may have to come at the expense of Scott Sinclair, who seems to have gone quiet in the last few weeks. Alternatively, Ayew also has the ability to play in the lone striker’s role and, if things aren’t going our way in the goal-scoring department, he should also be given a chance to play up top as a lone striker.

This way, we could potentially have Gil, Grealish, Traoré and the other supporting midfielders trying to play in between the lines and provide through-balls to Ayew – and that’s when he’s most dangerous. He’s good at playing against the offside trap and could potentially have a decent goal tally if he is able to play just off the last defender.

The next few weeks are vitally important. Luckily for us, the international break gives Tim Sherwood more than enough time to analyse what is going wrong and to put things right. The management really need to knuckle down and realise that they do in fact have a more than decent squad now; they just need to make sure the cogs are all in the right places to make this Villa team tick.



  1. I am fed up with Tim saying he has to find a way to play. We have played well in two halves of football – first half vs Leicester City and second half against Blues. In both of those games we played a 4-2-3-1. We have to get our attacking/creative players into the game and it was criminal not to have done so against a poor Stoke team at Villa Park. Tim needs to learn.

    He has got to go:
    ——————– Guzan ——————-
    Bacuna — Richards – Clark — Amavi
    ———— Gana – Veretout ————-
    Gil ———— Grealish ———– Ayew (interchange with Sinclair & Traore)
    ——— Gestede/Gabby/Ayew ——–

    We’ve got to go at teams, especially at Villa Park. We have the players to do it, Tim just needs to recognise it and use them properly.


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