In Part 1 of the series, we covered the strong play of Aston Villa goalkeepers in 2017/2018. Next up, we have the right fullbacks. We saw five different players make starts at the position over the course of the season.
In the aggregate, the right backs this season can be summarized as a disappointment, but hardly a glaring weakness. While the quality of play at the position was sub-par, opposing teams rarely made heavy work out of attacking the right-hand side.
Ahmed Elmohamady led the position in minutes, logging a hefty 3,342 minutes across 45 appearances (38 starts). Though, a small number of those appearances were at right wing, especially in the early part of the season. Elmo really shined early on with incredible work rate and some sizzling, in-swinging crosses. Though the work rate never diminished, the service began to dry-up month after month. His final offensive contribution ended on February 2nd – an assist versus Burton Albion. In total, the Egyptian international finished on five assists, 73% passing accuracy, and decent defensive statistics.
Alan Hutton made nine appearances at right back, but struggled when compared to his appearances on the left.
The biggest disappointment at the position, however, was the lack of development time for James Bree. Bree, 20, (a Steve Bruce signing), played a meager 495 minutes of league ball with three further cup appearances. The odd part is that Bree played just as well, if not better than Elmohamady in stints, but he never received his chance at claiming the right back spot. His season highlight was being part of the backline that kept a clean sheet against Middlesbrough in the second leg of the play-off semi-final.
Ritchie De Laet (remember him!) made 10 appearances in all competitions, most at right back as a substitute. He’s set to return to Aston Villa after a January loan to Royal Antwerp expires this summer. Both he and Bree could play bigger roles next season.
Finally, we have Manchester United loanee Axel Tuanzebe. Injury limited his January loan to just five appearances, but he showcased glimpses of prodigal talent. Some reports say, Aston Villa have extended his loan through next season. We’ll see if that’s true, but it is a real coup if so.
Best Moment: Ahmed Elmohamady sending whipping crosses to Keinan Davis and the other forwards in the fall. Sadly, the production dried up.
Worst Moment: James Bree losing crucial development time sitting outside the Villa eighteen week after week.