The dust has settled on Aston Villa’s incredibly frustrating 0-1 loss at home to local rivals Wolves, despite feeling somewhat numb to the loss – I’ve since recently been injected with an ounce of optimism, reveling in both Bournemouth and Watford’s recent defeats (despite West Ham’s shock win against Chelsea).
Now, I’d be kidding myself if I said watching Liverpool get thrashed 4-0 by Manchester City filled me with optimism – this side will be out for revenge and 100 points still a possibility for the Reds, I’d expect to face a full-strength side at Anfield.
Dean Smith caved-in to the fans’ desires of playing two strikers against Wolves, with Keinan Davis and Ally Samatta – opting with a 4-4-2 diamond. I’ve previously mentioned in my previews that I believe if Villa are to play with two strikers, 3-5-2 is the way forward in my opinion.
Whilst I believe Smith is the right man to manage Villa, to say it’s concerning that Dean doesn’t know his best starting XI and system 32 games into a season would be an understatement.
If Dean opts to go with this same system against Liverpool, it’s safe to say it will be an uncomfortable to watch the likes of Salah, Firmino and Mane tear us apart.
The Game Plan
For me, 3-5-2 is how I would like to see Villa line up against Liverpool. Given our recent performances and results, it’s important that we limit the damage as much as possible. Packing the midfield with two sitters; Douglas Luiz and John McGinn. With Ahmed Elmohamady and Neil Taylor (standing in for the inured Matt Targett) occupying the wing-back positions – and Jack Grealish in the ‘10’.
This would allow Villa to be solid in the defensive phase, whilst also leaving Villa with a strong set-up to spring the hosts on the counterattack, with McGinn and Luiz acting as a double pivot when entering the attacking phase.
This would also allow Ezri Konsa to shuffle into his preferred centre-back position alongside Tyrone Mings and Kortney Hause.
Staying in the Race
Villa are by no means down and out, just yet. Considering Bournemouth and Watford lost last week, safety is still within Villa’s reach.
I cannot overstate the importance of Villa keeping this game as tight as possible, fight for every second ball, out-run your opponents, put in that extra 20% that we need to compete with the top teams. I’m not expecting Villa to humiliate the champions in their own back yard, but Villa must compete to give them hope in their remaining fixtures.
Being as optimistic as ever, I’m predicting a 1-1 draw, with goals coming from Captain Jack Grealish and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Liverpool.
About the Author
Dan Morgan is an Aston Villa season ticket holder and follows the team home and away.
An aspiring sports journalist and football writer, he hosts Heart of the Holte’s podcast ‘The Villa Filler’ as well as writing and editing for Heart of the Holte.
You can follow Dan on Twitter at @danmorgi34
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