Aston Villa Focus - Dynamic Villa require a creative spark
While they have showed some very encouraging signs in their opening three Premier League games and seem high on confidence, Aston Villa’s performances have still provided evidence to suggest that they are still lacking in one or two areas. The most notable example is the absence of a playmaker.
The current Villa midfield is made up of pace and solidity, but contains nobody really capable of producing eye of the needle passes in order for the likes of Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann to get in behind a defence, something which contributed to their failure to create many clear-cut chances during Saturday’s defeat to Liverpool.
Fabian Delph, Karim El Ahmadi and Ashley Westwood all act as holding midfielders, and although Westwood appears the most likely of the three to be suited to a more advanced role, manager Paul Lambert is unlikely to move the 23-year-old, a near ever-present since joining last summer, further forward.
Of Villa’s six summer signings, only Leandro Bacuna can operate in a central midfield role, but early impressions look to show that he is a player who likes to commit defences and make forward runs. While he looks a decent acquisition, he does not appear to possess the incisiveness that Villa need.
Last season, Brett Holman occasionally displayed a creative talent, before he was gradually phased out by Lambert, and eventually left the club. However, Villa have been linked with Nuremberg’s attacking midfielder, Hiroshi Kiyotake this summer, and with five goals and 11 assists in his 36 appearances for the German club, he might just be the player Villa need to unlock Premier League defences.
At present, Villa are a team that is set up perfectly to punish teams on the counter-attack, with the pace of the full-backs, Matthew Lowton and Antonio Luna, Gabriel Agbonlahor, and Weimann, who opened the scoring in Wednesday’s 3-0 Capital One Cup victory over League One side Rotherham United.
Lambert clearly was not taking any risks for that game, fielding a strong side and taking advantage of the two and-a-half week break until their next game, at home to Newcastle United on September 14. Goals from Benteke and Delph ensured Villa’s progress as Jed Steer made the ideal start at his new club, keeping a clean sheet on debut.
The time off would perhaps allow Lambert to concentrate on any transfer activity he may wish to conclude, with the deadline coming on Monday. In terms of possible arrivals, Villa have been linked with another left-back, Ipswich Town’s Aaron Cresswell, with the Daily Star reporting that they are interested along with a number of other Premier League clubs.
A deal for Cresswell, who he was linked with last summer, would see Paul Lambert return to his favoured transfer policy of recruiting up-and-coming players from the Football League, after dipping into the European market for much of this summer. But at present, Villa are not really in need of another left-back, as even with the strength and deadly finishing of Benteke, a playmaker is needed to find a bit more penetration.
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