The Birmingham Mail’s Ashley Preece has implored Aston Villa boss Dean Smith to go “back to basics” amid his recent tactical shift in the Premier League.
The Villans moved to a back-three for the trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea a few weeks ago, and while they were beaten 3-0 by the Blues, they stuck with it for the games against Everton and Manchester United – both of which resulted in victories.
However, since then, it’s been a real struggle, with the Midlands club now on a run of three successive defeats in the competition following last Friday’s dismal 3-1 defeat away at Arsenal.
And now, Preece has suggested Smith go back to his tried and trusted, even indicating that the players themselves appear to be lost right now.
During a Q&A for The Birmingham Mail, he said: “Yes, it’s time to get back to basics. The players don’t seem comfortable playing 3-5-2, such was their body language of late. Midfield non-existent last week in that first half. Lost count how many Arsenal players just ran straight through to Villa’s defence without a tackle going in.
“Yes, I’d go with what you suggested. Who starts up front for you; Ings or Watkins? Also agree re Buendia, he’s looking like a better option out wide where he did his damage for Norwich. Bossed again centrally last week.”
While the switch to a back-three worked against the likes of Everton and United, it has been nothing short of a disaster since then, stifling any creativity and seeing their midfield overrun far too easily.
Against Arsenal, their dreadful first-half performance saw them have no shots on goal whatsoever compared to the Gunners’ 14, with Douglas Luiz and John McGinn simply find it too much to deal with the likes of Thomas Partey, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Emile Smith Rowe and Alexandre Lacazette dropping into central spaces.
With the returns of Leon Bailey and Bertrand Traore, Smith now has two genuine wingers who he can turn to and utilise in a more familiar 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, and that could see them rediscover their form.
Right now, Villa’s players just look completely uncomfortable in their system and roles as Preece says, and it’s high time Smith reverts to type ahead of this weekend’s crunch Premier League clash against West Ham on Sunday afternoon.