Premier League football returns at Villa Park with the Villains welcoming Sheffield United on Wednesday evening. We can’t hide from the fact that the Villa must get off to a good start. We currently sit 19th in the table and if the season is cancelled now, we would be relegated on Points Per Game.
This game is our free game, our game in hand. If we really feel we deserve to be a Premier League team next season we need to show it. Villa must get out of the bottom 3 as soon as possible. A wise man who lost many a hub cap when the Scousers came to town (he now has alloys) says the table never lies. Dean Smith needs to listen to JCV.
Is Dean Smith going to get it right?
It is fair to say that the jury is still out on Dean Smith. Is he the right man to manage the Villains. Some fans think he is simply not good enough. Others think some magical board-level setup gave him the success he enjoyed at Brentford. Quite a few think he is totally out of his depth. But there is also a group that think Dean Smith is just inexperienced in the Premier League and will come good with time.
The pressure is on Smith to get the formation and tactics right from the moment the whistle sounds against Sheffield United. This season we have played 3 at the back and 4 at the back with varying degrees of success and failure. Unfortunately, we don’t know how we set up in the recent friendlies so no clues for us there. More than likely we will be playing against a 3-5-2. (It pisses me off that Enda Stevens will start as left wing-back against us and we sold him for about 50k). I expect we will play 4 at the back and a lone striker and I think this is the right thing to do for this game.
The Villains starting 11 against Sheffield United
Only 5 players will be bankers to start; Mings, Targett, Grealish, McGinn and Samatta. The rest of the places will be down to who has impressed Smith in the preseason. Guilbert and Engels will more than likely complete our defensive setup with Nyland in goal. I am not sure if Reina is even in the UK as I believe he got fairly sick with Covid-19. I expect to see Luiz and Nakamba start alongside (maybe a little behind) Super John McGinn.
To take 3 points from Sheffield Utd we will need to score goals. It is from the remaining 3 players the goals are most likely to come. I think Jack will start on the left, he and Targett have looked good together and Samatta upfront. The question is who will work the right side of the pitch? Elmo, El Ghazi and Trezeguet are each in with a shout. I am opting for Trezeguet on the back of him scoring against Leicester. The bench will also include one (Vassilev) if not two of our promoted u23’s.
Would 4-4-2 work?
I had a chat with a young man from Vancouver on Friday evening and he was posing the idea of seeing the Villains put out a side of Davis upfront with Samatta and Grealish and McGinn in the midfield behind them. The simple idea that Grealish and McGinn would get the ball forward. Davis would hold the ball up. Samatta would find the back of the net. Sounds very plausible to me and I believe the 4 players mentioned would fit into that setup naturally. So why do we not do it? Is this a failing with Smith or is this that the rest of our midfield and defence is too weak to play that style and Smith is smart enough to recognise this?
Regardless of who Smith picks or what formation he chooses I expect this to be a close game. I can’t imagine either team will be fresh and the circumstances will be difficult for everyone. Saying all that, the claret & blue glasses are on, I am really excited to have football back and we are going to win this game 2-0.