The Athletic’s Holly Percival has claimed that Aston Villa’s midfield is ‘the main cause for concern’ for Dean Smith at the moment.
In their last Premier League outing, Villa fell to a 2-1 away loss against Tottenham Hotspur, thanks to goals from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and an own goal from Matt Targett, which sandwiched Ollie Watkins’ response.
Despite Smith opting for the same midfield trio that helped the club to a memorable victory at Old Trafford against Manchester United only the week before, Percival felt that ‘a bad day in the office’ has left the club with some decisions to make regarding that area of the pitch in the near future.
While speaking as a guest on the 1874 podcast, Percival outlined her opinion, saying: “I think a bad day in the office for the midfield is probably the main cause for concern at the moment.
“I think the reason Dean Smith went unchanged from the United side was because he was confident that the same team could do the same thing against the Spurs, hence why [Jacob] Ramsey started.
“But I think maybe [Marvelous] Nakamba starting would have been a more wise decision, to kind of have two holding midfielders and have [Douglas] Luiz and the Nakamba sit together and let [John] McGinn kind of try and win the ball back higher up.
“I mean, Ramsey only had 12 total passes completed in that time that he was on the pitch, and you could tell he was frustrated when he got that yellow card. He’s young, yes, but you know, maybe Nakamba would have been the safest option there to reduce that risk of errors.”
TIF Thoughts on Aston Villa and their midfield…
The club were actually looking to sign a new central midfielder in the summer. Their failed attempts to sign James Ward-Prowse from Southampton was well-publicised. They also failed to be coy when bidding for a more attacking-midfield option in Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe.
As for their current players, John McGinn only missed one game last season, and it’s the same story after the first seven games of the new campaign, so you wouldn’t expect him to be dropped. Douglas Luiz also seems to be one of the most relied-upon players for Smith.
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However, after a ‘frustrated’ performance from Jacob Ramsey, this could be the one area of the midfield the Villa manager looks to adapt going forward if his display at Spurs is a potential sign of things to come.