It's All About the Base!
Since the arrival of the new "Garde", people have been talking about a new start. Sadly, after the 4-0 drubbing at Everton, new start or not, the same issues came to the surface. Villa have suffered with consistency for the last 5 years, the only thing that has been consistent is the fight against relegation. It is time to stop the tinkering with the team, and find a base we can build off.
It doesn't matter in the end, which formation Garde goes with, he has to find the spine of his team, and then build from there. I personally feel he should go back to a formation that makes us harder to beat. I look back to the Arsenal invincible team, and play a 442/441.
Due to a lack of options, Guzan looks to be our number one until January at least. As we start to look at the spine of the team, we need 6 leaders who are going to run along it. The sis positions that need to be nailed down are, two central defenders, two center midfielders, and the two furthest forward players.
Those positions need to be filled by leaders, a look around the Villa squad, and there seem to be slim pickings. I believe given time, Richards and Clark can build a formidable duo. Even though, they have both made school boy errors, they seem to have leadership qualities. Given guidance, and support on both flanks, they could be the difference to our future in the Premier League. If either of these two are injured for a period of time, then we would have to fall on the ilk of Lescott, Crespo, or Okore. Lescott, would be the most experience, but his legs seem to be past there sell-by-date. Llori could be a surprise package, but we won't know until he returns from a groin injury. He may need to fill in for the injured Amavi.
As we move forward, to the center midfield, only one leader stands out, and that is Sanchez. The captain of his current, who is starting to show that form for the Claret and Blue. For me, he has to be the first midfielder on the team sheet. He is prone to the odd misplace pass, but for all the work he does breaking up the opposition play, he is invaluable. It doesn't matter if we play two, or three in midfield, the next name on the sheet needs to be Gana. His high energy, and combative nature, will be a great foil for Sanchez. Yet to leadership qualities, I believe he will be an importance piece in the Villa jigsaw. We have the likes of Westwood, Veretout, or Gardner, who can play second fiddle, but don't fill me with a great deal of confidence. Given time, and good leadership, they reach their highest potential.
The forward two, this is a difficult area, as Villa haven't been very productive in front of goals over the last few seasons. The loss of Benteke to Liverpool, left a massive void. Gestede was brought in as a like for like replacement, and with quality service, he could be a savior. I believe Kozak has been written off too quickly by Sherwood, and now Garde, and he could be leader we have up top. At this time, I would give it to Gestede as I am unsure where Kozak is with his recover. A couple of U21 games, doesn't get him ready for the big league. The lack of creativity over the last few seasons, as killed Villa. I believe in Gil, and Grealish we have two potential match winners. Sadly, just as the Everton game should, I don't think they will play to often together. They are both light-weight, and are luxuries we can't afford in a dog-fight. I personally Gil has shown he can influence games at a higher level than Grealish. I would have a central pairing of Gestede, and Gil, with Kozak, and Grealish on the bench.
As we look at the limbs, we need to find fullbacks who can defend, and wingers with high energy, who can put the ball into dangerous areas in the penalty box. The last I looked, around 85%, of all goals ever, were scored from the penalty spot forward. Those numbers may have changed slightly, but what is true, is Villa need to get more balls in there for players to attack.
Villa at present isn't stacked with talents, but I also believe we are better than our present position.
Going forward, I would look to play the following team as much as possible.
Crespo Richards Clark Richardson
Sinclair Sanchez Gana Ayew
The main concern is left-back, I wouldn't mind giving Kinsella a run, because at the moment, Richardson is pretty poor. As I said earlier, Llori may be able to slot in there, and the sooner the better. The likes of Gabby, Hutton, Traore will still play their part, but should be limited until they show promise with the opportunities they get.
No matter what happens this season, Villa need to be more consistent in the formation, and the players we play.
**I had published this blog before Jack's weekend antics came to life. I appreciate him adding support to my call for him to be dropped.