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Aston Villa’s Fight For Survival

Aston Villa sit in 19th place, they’re two points and a sizeable change in goal difference off safety. The Villains have relied heavily on home advantage, 17 of their 25 points have come at Villa Park but in the Bundesliga only 14 of the 58 Bundesliga games since the restart have been won by the home team.

The Birmingham based side have faced 507 shots, at least 55 more than anyone else despite playing a game less than most sides. They’re also second for shots on target faced with only Newcastle having more. These shots are of a high quality as well, they sit second for post-shot expected goals against, this is the expected goals of the shots on target they face.

This really emphasises that there is no easy fix defensively for them, but they can change slightly. The Villains need to be more compact and push their defensive line up. Teams find it easy to find space in between the lines in front of the defence, especially wide which makes it easier for their opponents to move the ball into good shooting areas. If Dean Smith’s side reduce space in between the lines, this will reduce the quality and quantity of shots they face, both of which have been real problems.

Due to their poor acquisitions in the summer of 2019, they won’t be able to press. They’re 16th for pressures but only 18th for successful pressures. They have lacked a good defensive midfielder since Gueye in 2015/16. With the inability to put pressure on their opponents and a weak core, this means they will have to be passive and organised to limit their opponent’s chances like Wolves.

With seven goals and six assists, no one has contributed more in attack than Grealish. The Villa captain has been their key attacking player with him averaging more touches in the attacking third, 30.9 per 90, than anyone else in Villa’s squad. Jack has also been the main ball progressor, this means Villa will have to hope he can keep his form up if they have any chance of fighting relegation.

Conor Hourihane has the best xA per 90 in the squad which means Hourihane and Grealish will have to be on the pitch if Aston Villa want to score. If Villa are to play Grealish, Hourihane and fan favourite McGinn all at the same time, they will have to play a 4-3-3 or a 4-1-4-1. They will need Nakamba at the base of the midfield with Hourihane and McGinn in front of him and Grealish playing as an inside winger on the left.

If Villa can tighten up defensively and maximise the output of their midfield and forward line, they will have a chance of avoiding the drop. If Aston Villa get relegated, they will be in huge financial trouble even if they sell Grealish following their huge spending last summer. Dean Smith’s side are second favourites to be relegated with a lot of betting companies as they have a huge task ahead.


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