Aston Villa‘s struggles continue as Dean Smith’s men were defeated by Arsenal by 3-1 in the English Premier League. Villa lost their third consecutive match and this leaves them in the 13th position with ten points in nine games played. The manager has made some changes to the team formation between last season and the start of this season.
Aston Villa preferred a 4-3-3 formation last season and started with a four at the back formation this season. This is the lineup of their second match of the season against Newcastle United. In this formation, Douglas Luiz plays as the defensive midfielder, the two central midfielders play in front of him. The team plays with one striker and two wingers.
Aston Villa started the season with a loss, win and draw in the first three matches. The team scored five goals in the three matches. Since then Dean Smith has shifted to a 3-5-2 formation.
Dean Smith has preferred a three at the back-formation from the fourth match running. Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins partner up-front and are supported by two wing-backs and three midfielders in the attack. The team has scored eight goals in six matches with this formation and earned two victories. One of the biggest concerns for Dean Smith is the partnership of his front two players. Ollie Watkins has scored one goal and Danny Ings has scored one goal and provided one assist. These two haven’t combined for a single goal this season.
Another area of concern for Dean Smith with this formation is the number of goals conceded by the team. The players haven’t adapted to the new style of formation and have leaked 11 goals in six games. They only conceded four games in the first three games. Last season the team conceded 46 goals and averaged 1.2 goals per game. This season the average has increased to 1.6. In the previous game against Arsenal, the defenders contested 25 defensive duels and won only four out of them. They lost 17 defensive duels and four resulted in a neutral result.
Villa have created one of the lowest threat rates in the league. The team has an xG rate of 10.45 in the nine games played. This means that they average around 1.16 xG per game. An xG rate of 3.54 was created in the first three matches. Since then the figure has lowered down by a little bit margin.
Last season the team created an xG rate of 61.52 in the 38 matches played. The average xG per game was 1.6. Villa scored 55 goals last season. The average this season is almost the same but the threat creation rate is less for the team.
Dean Smith’s side is not the same attacking side like they used to be last season. They lost their main man Jack Grealish in the summer but made some notable recruitments. Danny Ings has made the most goal contributions but his partnership with Ollie Watkins is yet to provide a goal contribution. The manager has Leon Bailey, El Ghazi, Traore (injured) and Trezeguet (injured) who can play as the wingers. Ollie Watkins can also play a wider role. Dean Smith needs to make changes so that his strikers return to goalscoring form and the team returns to winning ways.