Birmingham Live journalist Ashley Preece has claimed that Aston Villa have added another dimension to their game by bringing in a set-piece specialist coach this season.
The Villans brought in Austin MacPhee back in August, and he has proved to be a hit at the club.
How have Villa performed from set-pieces this season?
MacPhee’s impact has been almost instant since he arrived at Villa Park.
Dean Smith’s men scored twice from set-pieces in their opening seven league games, one of which was the winning goal at Old Trafford, when Kortney Hause headed home Douglas Luiz’s corner late on.
Only four clubs in the top-flight scored more goals from dead-ball situations during this period, according to WhoScored, and Villa have also become a threat from throw-ins thanks to Matty Cash’s ability to hurl the ball into the penalty box from the touchline.
What has Preece said about Villa’s set-pieces?
Preece feels that Villa’s set-pieces have given opposition defences another thing to worry about, and he expects other teams to start bringing in specialist coaches for this area of the game in the future.
Talking about the effect it has had on the Midlands-based club, he told GIVEMESPORT: “It’s another string to their bow. I think other clubs are missing a trick. And in the coming few weeks, months or years, I think clubs will hire a set-piece specialist because I think it’s going to be the new norm. So Villa are trailblazers in that respect.”
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How important are set-pieces?
Some may scoff at getting a coach in specifically to focus on set-pieces, but it seems to be working for Villa, and statistics suggest that these match situations are very important in modern-day football.
According to WhoScored, 177 of the 1024 goals scored in the Premier last season came from set-pieces, which equates to 17% of the overall total.
With over 1 in 6 goals coming from dead-ball situations, it seems clear that there is more than just luck to getting them right, and that they should be practiced regularly in order to make the most of them.
That is what Villa have done, and it appears that Liverpool and Chelsea might have also been doing their homework on this particular part of the sport, as they both scored on five occasions from set-pieces prior to this weekend’s action.
As Preece said, other clubs may start copying Villa in the future, and this could lead to teams becoming even more deadly from corners and free-kicks.