Dean Smith’s stubbornness of formation harming Wesley and Aston Villa

After 2 disappointing defeats brought a sharper focus on the team’s current form as well as Wesley’s lack of it, I believe a change in formation needs to happen immediately for Aston Villa.

This needs to happen for the sake of the entire Aston Villa team, but especially for Wesley.

He hasn’t scored since October and hasn’t really looked like scoring recently. He works hard and presses the opposition defence, but he is very isolated as the lone striker with no Villa player near him most of the time. This forces him to drop deep to try and retrieve the ball, which limits his involvement in attacking phases of play, which is illustrated by his lowly average of 1.6 shots per game on average according to whoscored.com.

When Wesley does drop deep, Villa don’t really see a benefit, as a 72.5 pass success rate per game with only a single assist to his name so far this season shows that he is ineffective in this facet of the game too.

A playmaker-type player such as Jack Grealish or Jota playing behind Wesley in a 4-2-3-1 may bring more success, as we saw Wesley’s first Aston Villa goal come from a well-timed through ball from Jota against Everton. Perhaps another reason for Villa’s lack of spark up front resides in the fact that Jack Grealish has been playing out of the left-wing recently.

Villa’s whole attacking armoury comes from Grealish getting on the ball, winning fouls and getting the team up the pitch. Grealish tends to drift centrally when on the ball, but also does so when he wants the ball to be played to him.

Therefore, playing him in the ‘hole’ will ensure he can be closer to Wesley when he receives the ball, and it will keep Wesley closer to the opposition’s box as Grealish will now be occupying the space that the Brazilian usually drops back into.

Bought in the summer for £22 million, Villa needs to be doing their best to get the most value out of Wesley, and it’s clear that both parties could be doing a lot better in that respect. So it will be interesting to see whether or not Smith agrees that something needs to change in order to see a genuine return on the expensive investment.