Aston Villa given some wise tactical advice by Noel Whelan

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This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…

Noel Whelan has had his say on Aston Villa’s opening Premier League performance against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday evening.

What’s he said?

Villa looked to be on course for the upset of the weekend after John McGinn’s ninth minute strike was the only goal of the game until the 73rd minute.

However, a long-range screamer from Tanguy Ndombele and a quick-fire Harry Kane brace secured a 3-1 victory for Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs.

Speaking to Football Insider, Whelan believed the tactics used by Dean Smith were the cause of their downfall, he said:

“One thing Aston Villa need to do is take the pressure off their defence by trying to play higher.

“I know you’re playing against a very good Tottenham side but they’ve just spent £127million. You want to test them at the other end and relieve a little bit of pressure on your back four.

“I just think they got very, very deep at times, inviting Tottenham on, didn’t cause them hardly any problems in the second half.

“Dean Smith will use it as a learning game as well, you need to play higher up the pitch at times and be brave enough push bodies up. I think they kind of shot themselves a little bit in the foot by not having a go in the second half.”

Guilbert, a potential Targett?

It was quite the surprise when Villa boss Smith named his starting XI for the game as he elected to keep two of last season’s playoff heroes at either side of his defence.

Neil Taylor, 30, and Ahmed Elmohamady, 31, have plenty of experience in the top-flight of English football – between them they have 298 Premier League appearances (Taylor, 132; Elmohamady, 166).

But as Whelan eludes to, that decision may have been the catalyst to their downfall.

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You have two ageing full-backs, who have lost a yard of pace since their last foray into the Premier League back in the 2016/17 season, going up against the speed and trickery of Lucas Moura, Erik Lamela and even Kyle Walker-Peters. And they invited that much pressure on them – Spurs recorded 70.1% possession in the match.

Villa’s regular duo at full-back throughout the summer was Frederic Guilbert and summer arrival Matt Targett, who between them only conceded three goals in five matches in what appeared to be a very promising partnership.

Find out which 33-year-old could help keep Aston Villa in the Premier league this season in the video below…

They are both at least six years younger than the aforementioned pair and would offer so much more going forward.

Whelan’s right that they need to take the pressure of the defence by playing higher, but they would be wise to throw these two back into the lineup to do so – there’s no time for sentiment in the Premier League.

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