Earlier this week, we took a look at a couple of players that I felt have received the lion’s share of unfair criticism over the past few weeks and months. Today, I’d like to take the opposite approach, and take a look at three players that I feel deserve a bit more criticism based on their performances thus far for Aston Villa.
The Un-usual Suspects: Players Deserving More Criticism
1. Anwar El Ghazi, Albert Adomah, and Jonathan Kodjia
I’ll admit that I started writing this section to focus exclusively on Anwar El Ghazi, but the more I look at the statistics and recall performances, none of these players stand above one another in terms of some needed criticism. I think that using the now-departed and oft-maligned Yannick Bolasie for a few statistical comparisons should be an indicator of how these lads are performing. All stats compiled via WhoScored.
Goal scoring has not been too big an issue, with Kodj and El Ghazi combining for 10, which is fine from your rotational wingers. However, the assists have been what are lacking for me. Aston Villa have the best CF in the league in Tammy Abraham, and Adomah/El Ghazi/Kodjia have combined for a mere 6 assists (2 each). Yannick Bolasie had 4. Bolasie, for all his other issues, dished out twice as many dimes as any current Villa winger. The rest of the offensive statistics are telling, in that they cant be separated from each other. All four players mentioned rank almost equally in key passes, crosses/match, uncontrolled touches, and shots/match. I should mention that El Ghazi and Kodjia have slightly higher pass % and rates of earning fouls. Because of those last two statistics, I think we as supporters would be right to expect more from Adomah on the offensive end. (Even if expecting more still only gets him to a 6 every week). HOWEVER…
You guessed it, Adomah ranks out as the best defensive winger of the four. At 1.5 tackles/match, this places him well above the next closest man (El Ghazi, 0.9) and well above the lowest rate (Kodjia, 0.3). Adomah also commits almost exactly half as many fouls as any of the other qualified wingers. For me many times committing fouls can have less to do with defensive acumen, and more about getting into the right positions at the right time. How does one get into these positions? Effort. Any supporter that watched the matches would’ve told you that Bolasie failed the “eye test” when it came to his effort off the ball. Admittedly, I’ve seen not much difference from the like of El Ghazi and Kodjia. Neither have shown a great propensity or desire to track back when necessary, trading lazy fouls for free-kicks in the middle third of the pitch. No surprise to see Dean Smith’s reluctance to start both El Ghazi and Kodjia together, for fear of a forward lineup that is a defensive liability.
These things considered, I think it’s fair to say that all of the above players need to start performing better in at least one aspect of their game should they want a spot in the XI next campaign. Dean Smith’s vision for Aston Villa does not, and can not include players that are only willing to perform on one side of the pitch. For now though, this is what we have. Lets push our lads to perform more positively, and hopefully the results will follow. UTV