Occupying 18th position in the Premier League after 7 matches isn’t a good look for Aston Villa, with their tally of a solitary win across these games owing much to the team failing to take advantage of promising situations.
Aston Villa have given up 8 points from winning positions already this season, and its only the 1st of October.
This illustrates 2 things; That the team are at least competitive upon promotion and showing that they can create and score goals in this division, but it does also show the naivety that is commonly associated with newly promoted teams. This naivety has been brutally exposed in each of the last 3 league games against West Ham, Arsenal and Burnley. Against West Ham and Arsenal, Villa had a man advantage for nearly 70 mins combined across the two games, and in this time only scored a solitary goal, but even more concerning is the fact that they conceded 3 goals.
There could be a multitude of reasons why Aston Villa couldn’t manage to make their man advantage tell in these games, but one area that manager Dean Smith could have changed the team’s fortunes was by using the substitutes bench effectively.
Against West Ham, Smith effectively wasted a substitution after Arthur Masuaku’s red card by bringing on Douglas Luiz for Marvelous Nakamba; these 2 are very similar players with mirroring attributes, none of which were needed at a time when Villa had 2 creative and forward-thinking midfield options in Henri Lansbury and Conor Hourihane on the bench who would have been better suited to come on.
In the following game against Arsenal when Villa once again had an 11 against 10 situation in their favour, these 2 players did come on, but by then Arsenal had completed their comeback from 2-1 down to 3-2 up, partly engineered by their aggressive, bold use of their midfield subs who then excelled against Villa’s tired midfield.
The word ‘naive’ could also be used to describe Villa’s game against Burnley last Saturday. Having managed to go back in front at 2-1 with 10 minutes to go in the match, they manage to concede an equaliser less than 2 minutes later from a cross to tie the game 2-2. It’s been a bruising return to the Premier League for Villa so far, but hopefully lessons can be learned by the players and coaching staff very quickly and Villa can start picking up points.