It’s fair to say that Aston Villa have dropped off lately in terms of performances and results. I believe a big reason for the goals being conceded is injuries to two key men in the defense: Neil Taylor and Axel Tuanzebe. I discuss why their absences are hitting Villa hard and why I think a new left-back should be purchased this month.
Ever since Jay Rodriguez illegitimately denied Aston Villa a win at the Hawthorns on the 7th of December, things have gone pear-shaped. Neil Taylor and Jack Grealish are injured for an unspecified length, and Axel Tuanzebe has been ruled out long-term.
The team have recorded just a single win, and conceded a last-minute goal to leaders Leeds to lose 3-2 just before Christmas. The most worrying trend during this allied to the lack of wins has been the number of goals conceded is reaching the heights of Steve Bruce’s final days. 8 goals conceded in the last 5 games including 2, 3 and 2 respectively in the last 3 home games is really making it hard for Villa to win games.
I really think the losses of Taylor and Tuanzebe are a big reason for these numbers incurring. Alan Hutton has filled in at left-back in recent games without much luck. He looks like he is playing in the wrong position (which he is), but he did ok there last season which makes it puzzling to see him struggle *very* badly this season. Perhaps he peaked last season and needs a few matches on the bench to refresh him.
At 34, he’s a veteran in football terms.
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Tuanzebe’s injury forced James Bree to fill in at centre-back. He is a right-back by trade, but he is performing as well as can be expected from him. Ahmed Elmohamady has not been good in the past few weeks and was dropped against QPR which says that Dean Smith sees it too. Tommy Elphick being recalled and put in at centre-back with Chester allowed Bree to play right back in that game, and I think he did well there and should keep his place.
With a changed defense the team still conceded twice though, and not for the first time, fingers were being pointed at Hutton for the second goal. I do feel for him having to play left-back due to Taylor’s absence but as soon as Taylor returns, Hutton should be placed on the bench. Dean Smith has liked to chop and change his wingers, and in fact now with Elphick back, Bree and Elmohamady are competing for a right back spot, which has been a good way to create competition. And now, I think a left-back should be sourced this window to enable the same competition for Taylor. It must be said that Hutton is not providing anything at this moment and it’s an area which should be a primary focus for Dean Smith.