Aston Villa’s frustrations regarding their 3-2 loss against Tottenham Hotspur will only be compounded by the ways and times in which the goals were conceded.
Toby Alderweireld’s well-taken half-volley hit the back of Pepe Reina’s net 18 minutes after Villa had opened the scoring, which seemed to take away the momentum they had been building up.
However, it is the other two goals that should leave Dean Smith and others associated with the club seething.
That is because both of Heung-min Son’s goals came at the end of each half, something that has happened far too often this campaign.
In fact, the periods of 31-45 and 76-90 minutes are the times in which Villa concede most often, as shown by the graph below.
It wasn’t until the first minute of added time in the first half that the South Korean managed to guide his rebound from Pepe Reina’s penalty save into the net after Bjorn Engels had fouled Steven Bergwijn.
Having then got his side back on level terms, the Belgian eventually let the ball slip under his foot, allowing Son to run behind the defence and score a 93rd-minute winner. Ultimately, it meant that Villa were to come out of the game without any points.
These are the two most likely periods for the team to concede, with there being three potential underlying causes.
The first, and possibly most obvious, is concentration, which seemed to completely desert Engels when letting the ball go under his foot. If Villa are to stay in the Premier League, the minimum requirement is that they are able to maintain their focus for the entire game.
Secondly, there could also be issues with fitness that are being exploited by the opposition. For the last goal of the game, Kortney Hause was the only player able to get remotely close to Son, while physical fatigue can link to poor decision making.
The last potential factor is the tactics and substitutions being deployed by Smith – he could change formations and freshen things up, rather than simply changing the personnel.
For example, when he brought on Borja Baston, rather than using the Spaniard to replace Mbwana Samatta, he could have put the pair upfront together, which may have allowed them to shut Davinson Sanchez down for his clearance.
In addition, for Spurs’ second, it was one ball clipped in behind the defence that had Bergwijn running into a dangerous area, which simply isn’t good enough at this level.
All in all, questions have to be asked and Villa really need to find a solution to this issue in order to boost their chances of survival.