Aston Villa’s Wesley may struggle with Bournemouth physical test after early signs in poor debut

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This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more… 

Aston Villa were arguably harshly done by the scoreline in their season opener against Tottenham Hotspur as Mauricio Pochettino’s men ran out 3-1 victors.

John McGinn’s ninth-minute goal for Villa looked to be enough to cause the shock of the weekend, if not earn at least a draw, until Spurs’ record signing Tanguy Ndombele pelted in a thunderbolt from long range – that was before Harry Kane netted a quick-fire four-minute brace in the game’s closing stages.

There were a number of signs for encouragement for Dean Smith and his men, on top of McGinn’s goal, Tyrone Mings was the standout star, rating at 7.9 with a clearance off-the-line and an assist to his name.

But not everything was rosy and there could be a sign of bad things to come if Wesley Moraes’ debut performance is anything to go by.

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Villa’s club-record man failed to have much of an impact on the game but he was facing a side who ranked third defensively in the Premier League last season – a tough opener either way.

However, the Brazilian was dispossessed three times in the match and also registered three bad touches as well as losing possession six times, three of which resulted in the turnover of the ball.

These figures could suggest that the 22-year-old is already struggling to adapt to the tough physical conditions of the Premier League which is only going to get worse with Bournemouth on the horizon.

Eddie Howe is likely to play a three-at-the-back formation which could simply swallow up Wesley if Villa aren’t careful.

It’s a well-balanced backline too with the pace and strength of Nathan Ake, the 6 foot 3 towering stature of Chris Mepham and the industrious Steve Cook who has been a mainstay in that Bournemouth defence for years having made 306 appearances for the club.

It is the battle against Ake which is interesting, the smallest of the three defenders at 5 foot 11, but one of the best in terms of strength.

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

Back in March, the Dutchman admitted he built up that particular quality playing with his brother: “He is four years older but that made me more physical at a young age because I was playing with older people.”

That shows that he isn’t fazed and equally, is unlikely to be worried by the height advantage Wesley has on him of around three to four inches.

Ake won two aerial duels in their opening game against Sheffield United but that’s short of his usual average of the last two seasons with him recording 2.3 per game in the 2018/19 campaign and 2.8 per game the previous year.

The former Chelsea ace also recorded a 100% success rate with his tackles in that match against the Blades, his three challenges being more than any other defender in the side.

Wesley might well have just faced up against Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez but this weekend’s test could be even more demanding against a presence like Ake.

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