I have read many articles and listened to one or two podcasts since the defeat to Bournemouth the weekend. Many people have their own opinion on the shock defeat on the opening day of the Premier League season.
Aston Villa conceded two set-pieces following poor defending. Again, people will have their views on improving this area of our team, but I don’t believe this is a priority. Villa conceded on average 1.4 goals per game, ranking them 11th in the Premier League last season, roughly where we probably deserved to be.
Another area people like to point towards is our strikers but I don’t believe there are any better options for where we are right now. Apart from maybe West Ham, no one has really strengthened up top in and around where we are or want to be in the Premier League.
For me, the problem is, that we don’t create enough.
Keeping hold of the ball
One of the basic traits in football is passing. The most successful football teams dominate the possession by passing the ball in and around the team. It’s much easy to pass a ball around than chase the ball.
Pep Guardiola is one of the best, if not the best for this. Football doesn’t need to be over complicated. Keep it simple and practice the basics. Guardiola is well known for his many passing drills. He has stated in the past that he doesn’t train tackles because keeping hold of the ball is more important.
You only have to compare our stats to the likes of Brighton (404.9 ppm and 54.5%) and Wolves (374.6% ppm and 49.5%) to see where we are falling short. We want to be competing in the top 10 so without even thinking about your top 4-6 we have to be able to compete in the area with those clubs in and around us.
As last weekend’s performance proved, crossing in this squad isn’t a strong point. In fact, only four clubs averaged less accurate crosses per match last season (3.8) than Villa so why we focused so much on crossing against a big defensive side seems even crazier.
We don’t really have natural wingers in the side and although Ollie Watkins has decent aerial strength I would say he’s better on the floor. Villa generally plays with inside forwards and players who are gifted with the ball at their feet and not in the air.
Watford and Burnley created more big chances than Aston Villa last season and they were relegated. That in itself tells you everything you need to know.
We may have gone unbeaten throughout pre-season but if you look back at the games, we didn’t really create too much and seemed to rely on set pieces or a moment of magic from an individual.
It all sounds simple, doesn’t it? But how does Gerrard get the best out of the players at his disposal?
There is a reason I am sitting here this evening writing this article on a very warm evening and not preparing for our match against Everton. I can only offer my opinion but that’s what makes football so good isn’t it?
Steven Gerrard needs to find the right formula, and system and stop overcomplicating things in my opinion. Personally, I don’t think the 4-3-3 formation was wrong if the right players are playing. In another formation where I feel we could maximize the players at our disposal, I would look more to a 4-2-3-1 formation.
I feel with Boubacar Kamara’s defensive awareness we can afford to play Douglas Luiz alongside him in a two. Both are comfortable on the ball and can pick out a pass. Maybe John McGinn would partner with Kamara against the sides who are more superior to ourselves.
I would put Emi Buendia and Leon Bailey on the wings with Phil Coutinho in the number 10 role. There are three very good players, who are capable of magic and creativity if we get the ball to them in the right areas.
Between Watkins, Danny Ings and Cameron Archer they will miss chances but they will also score. The more we create, the more we are likely to score.
Regardless of what direction Gerrard goes in when we take to the field on Saturday against Everton, I just hope we have looked at the basics this week in training. As I said, I am no expert but football doesn’t need to be over complicated. Keep it simple and the rest should follow.