Before I begin the review of our final away game of the season, it is important to consider the wider context of today’s game.
Villa handed Blackburn 3 points today that will keep the Championship relegation battle going to the last day. Many Villa fans (myself excluded) would have taken a loss today but it seems to be all in vain as Birmingham City secured a 2-0 win that looks to have kept them all but safe.
Another important thing to remember is that this was a dead rubber game as Villa can’t go up nor down.
Despite both these facts, Aston Villa have just lost 1-0 to a team sat in the relegation zone. This simply isn’t good enough, regardless of whether we have something to play for this season or not. There are a few things that I have taken away from today that Steve Bruce has to address if we are to get anywhere near where we want to be next season.
The first is that without Mile Jedinak our midfield and whole team look weak.
Jedinak often doesn’t get the praise he deserves yet he is pivotal to everything Villa do. He breaks everything up and then keeps it simple allowing us to counter attack quickly.
Without him in the starting 11 today, Conor Hourihane and Henri Lansbury arguably had their worst games in a claret and blue shirt. Without Jedinak sitting in front of the back four, the other midfielders were dragged deeper into a defensive role which none of them were comfortable in.
Clearly, at his age Jedinak isn’t going to be able to play every game next season and so a new defensive midfielder is vital in the upcoming transfer window. Bruce says he wants to bring in 3/4 quality players in the summer, and a player such as former captain Gareth Barry would be ideal.
Something else to take away from today’s game is starting games with 4 central midfielders and no natural winger is not a sustainable plan.
I have already said that Hourihane had a poor game today, yet it isn’t entirely his fault. When he is being dragged out the wide left where he isn’t a natural, it is difficult for him to have the same effect on a game like he did when he played centrally at Barnsley.
Without any real width in the team today we rarely, if ever, gave Hogan or Kodjia any proper service which never culminated in a genuine chance on goal. If Bruce is going to persevere with 2 up top then he needs to find a system that brings in the wide players or we may be in for a long 2017/18 season.
I know that ultimately win, lose or draw today’s game didn’t have any real bearing on our season and I don’t want to be negative but today’s performance wasn’t good enough.
It is clear that Bruce hasn’t yet found his best formation that gets the best out of our best players. Pre season needs to be productive both on and off the pitch if Villa are to challenge for promotion next season.
Watch the Away Day Fan Cams from yesterday’s defeat as special guest host Max Roberts spoke to the fans!