Having gone to a back three in recent weeks, Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has seen some mixed results in the Premier League.
The Villans produced a stirring second half performance to sweep aside Everton, before coming away from Old Trafford with a 1-0 win against Manchester United using that formation.
However, things have taken a sharp nosedive since then, with consecutive defeats against Tottenham and Wolves respectively, and that change in fortune might just prompt Smith to have a little tinker of his team ahead of tonight’s Premier League game against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
If the Villa boss does revert to his usual four-man defence, then it will surely be Axel Tuanzebe who drops out from the starting line-up; and given his performance against Wolves last time out, that would be no real surprise.
As per SofaScore, he won just one of his three duels on the day and made no tackles or interceptions whatsoever, almost gifting Wolves the lead when his attempt at a quick free-kick went awry.
The centre-back looked shaky as he made his comeback to the team, and it was no surprise that he came in for some criticism after the game.
Writing in his post-match player ratings for The Birmingham Mail, Ashley Preece gave him a four (the lowest of any player), saying: “Back in from the start after missing the last two. Tuanzebe was rusty in the opening half and almost gifted Wolves the opener when his quick free-kick was given straight to Wolves before Hwang’s shot was blocked by Mings.
“Tuanzebe also gave the ball away before Traore went on his marauding run as Martinez saved well. It was an afternoon to forget for Tuanzebe who looked drained on his comeback as he failed to clear Coady’s goal as the ball trickled home. Not at the races.”
Aside from the possible tactical tweak Smith may wish to employ by going back to a back four, the £50k-per-week defender’s performance against Wolves certainly hasn’t warranted him being given a start against Arsenal tonight.