Dean Smith needs to change approach if Villa are to survive in the Premier League

After today’s defeat against Chelsea brought yet more questions surrounding Villa’s tactics and setup, I believe the manager needs to change his ways.

Despite it being a narrow defeat, the game today showed Villa’s lack of a plan when they are behind or chasing a game. One change in particular that I thought was questionable was bringing off Keinan Davis for Ally Samatta – a striker for a striker.

In fairness to Dean Smith, Villa were leading at this point in the game, but Davis was still feeding off scraps and was totally isolated at times playing against Chelsea’s centre backs on his own with no support.

I think a more positive and beneficial move would have been to bring on Samatta to play with Davis, so there would be a little more help for Davis at the top end of the pitch, but that didn’t happen and Chelsea scored 2 quick goals to win the game.

A must-win for Villa

A must-win game against Newcastle now awaits Villa, who lie in 19th place and who are 1 point off West Ham in 17th. In order to get the win against a resolute and tightly packed Newcastle outfit, Villa needs to get more bodies at the top end of the pitch and I believe a two-man attack is the way to go.

Smith has so far been stubborn in his belief that a 4-3-3 formation gets the best out of his squad, but it’s clearly not working, and the lack of attacking prowess since the resumption of the Premier League only further backs up my argument. A scoreless game against Sheffield Utd and a scrappy goal from a set-piece today really doesn’t point to a side who are doing everything right in attack.

I think a 4-3-1-2 set up could be the way forward for Villa, with the creative spark of Jack Grealish playing in behind a front two in “the hole”. It’s apparent that Grealish’s best position is in the centre of the pitch, where he can get on the ball and influence the game.

The lack of wingers in this formation shouldn’t be a concern as Villa aren’t getting much output anyway from Anwar El-Ghazi, Trezeguet, or Grealish for that matter when he plays on the left-wing as he’s currently doing.

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The risks of changing to this formation outweigh any potential downsides it may have, as Smith can’t just wait for something to change. He needs results quickly and hopefully, Villa can take Newcastle by surprise, much as they did to Burnley on New Years Day when Villa switched to 3-4-3 and won the game.