Football

Aston Villa's toothless midfield to blame for club's shortcomings this season

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A toothless Aston Villa inflicted more misery on their fans on Saturday following the 4-0 loss to Everton at Goodison Park - but what is surely the most alarming for the claret and blues is the way in which they capitulated against the Toffees.

This was Remi Garde's second game in charge and first away from home since taking the reigns from Tim Sherwood and if optimism lingered in the air after the 0-0 draw against Manchester City, it fast evaporated within 42 minutes against an Everton side who had it all too easy.

Villa's game plan was obvious: be defensively tight and frustrate their opponents. What materialised was a gutless surrender; a brittle and fragile resistance against a team they should be holding their own against.

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If the game plan was to be compact and tight, the choice of personnel was all wrong for the occasion. A midfield containing Carles Gil and Jack Grealish suggests possession based football was the game plan, not sitting deep.

Add to that Jordan Ayew up front - hardly a target man who will hold up the ball - and Villa in truth looked beaten inside the first two minutes.

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The main problem for Villa is they are far too lightweight in the centre of midfield and always display the look of players who know they will be second best in the 50/50.

They don't win enough tackles, they don't run hard enough to stop the attacks, they are infuriatingly on the losing side of the second ball and haven't enough power to carry the ball up the pitch. This results in the team being on the back foot time and time again, and the opposition know they can press Villa hard and high because they will invariably buckle under pressure. 

The one possible exception to the fragile centre of Villa's midfield is Carlos Sanchez. The Colombian has a presence, wins headers, makes interceptions and tackles well, but as heroic he might appear he is prone to losing the ball in dangerous areas.

His introduction at Everton did make for a slightly more even contest, though.

It is perhaps unfair to blame everything on Villa's toothless midfield. Kieran Richardson is no left-back, for example, and with the unfortunate season ending injury of Jordan Amavi, Villa's defence would look far more secure by shifting either Ciaran Clark or Joleon Lescott to full-back. 

And with Gabriel Agbonlahor misfiring, Rudy Gestede lacking consistent service and Libor Kozak frozen out for whatever reason, Villa's scoring prowess is severely hampered. The tooth fairy is busy indeed.

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Topics:
Aston Villa
Premier League
Football

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