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Aston Villa vs Liverpool


Rory Fitzgerald

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Villa have only scored 14 goals in 15 home games this season with 3 of them coming in the last league match against QPR at Villa Park. They have also taken a few hidings this season;

 

4-1 Southampton away

5-0 City away

8-0 Chelsea away

4-0 Spurs home

3-0 Wigan home

 

However, in the past 10 league matches, none have been settled by more than 1 goal. They won their last 2 games against bottom (QPR) and 2nd bottom (Reading) in recent weeks.

 

Villa are largely a counter-attacking team and have the 5thworst possession stats in the league at 44.9% which improves slightly to 47% when you look at their home games. We have averaged 56% of the possession in away matches which is the 3rd best in this category in the league. In terms of ‘action zones’, 31% of play has taken place in their ‘defensive zones’ which is the highest % in the league whilst they have the 3rd lowest % in the oppositions ‘defensive zones’at 25%.

 

  • In terms of passing and pass completion rates, Liverpool have played a massive 30% more passes than Villa and have a completion rate of 84.5% as opposed to Villa’s 76.9%.
     
  • They have the 3rd lowest ‘shots per game’ at 11.7 in home matches whilst we have the 3rd best in away matches at 15.6. They have the lowest amount of goals from open play in home matches – just 6 with 5 coming from set-pieces, 2 from the spot and 1 being considered a counter-attack.
     
  • Villa have the most ‘bookings’in the league overall (62) and the 2nd most when playing at home (27). Both Lowton & Suarez are on 9 bookings this season; another card would see them miss the 2 following league games.
     
  • They win on average 20.5 ‘aerial battles’ in home games which is joint 4thhighest. We win 12.9 in away games.
     
  • Despite dominant aerial stats, Villa attempt the fewest number of crosses per game in the league. However, from 'set pieces', they have the highest success rate of winning the ball at 47% i.e. they win 1 in 2 balls swung from set piece crosses. The next highest is WBA with 37%, so thats how dominant Villa in comparison to other teams at winning set piece crosses.

 

 

Its difficult to predict the Villa team given the no. of changes that Lambert has made this year but given that they have won their last 2 games (QPR home and Reading away) and won 2 of their last 3 home games (QPR win, City narrow loss, West Ham win), I’m going off these games. Note that they recently bought in 22yr old Sylla from the French 2nd division who is a 6’ Senegalesse player (not capped though) and he replaced Delph in the last 2 games

 

Bannon started the last 2 games instead of Nzogbia and Villa won both. If they start him again as I have set out below, I think Villa’s shape will be closer to 4-3-3 with Bannon the one given licence to make forward runs and Westwood and Sylla holding midfield.

 

Agbonlahor plays more left but his heat map of the last 2 games is not very distinctive suggesting that he floats across the front line and is as likely to show up on the right as on the left. Similar for Wiemann in that his heat map did not distinctively show him to be stuck to the right. As you can see from their ‘average’ position, they get quite close to Benteke.

 

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Benteke has scored 13 times from 25 starts this season and 8 times in his last 10 league games. When he scores in the league, Villa’s record is very strong W5 D4 L1 which accounts for 19 of their 30pts won so far this season.

 

Benteke has contested the highest amount of aerial battles (395) in the league, winning 230 of them. He averages 8.5 aerial contests per game. In the recent away game at Reading he competed in a staggering 21 aerial contests - winning 16 of them. Given the average position of the ‘wide’ men, 2nd balls could be an issue with Wiemann & Agbonlahor playing off Benteke as the focal point and our weakness in the air. Perhaps noteworthy is that Benteke has been caught offside 42 times this season which is the 2nd highest behind Jelavic (43).

 

If N’Zogbia comes back in, his positioning is a bit more aggressive and he gets closer to Benteke. As a consequence, in 2 recent games he started, Wiemann was more disciplined on the right for one of the games and in the other, it was Bowery.

 

Guzan(22)

 

Lowton(34) Vlaar(4) Clarke(6) Baker(32)

 

Westwood(15) Bannon(25) Sylla(18)

 

Wiemann(26) Benteke(20) Agbonlahor(11)

 

Some stats about their players;

 

- Brad Guzan has kicked the 3rd highest amount of '
long balls (474)
' in the Premiership behind Begovic (494) and Mignolet (509) so playing out from the back does not appear to be a priority ? Route 1 to Benteke perhaps ? For reference, Pepe has kicked 270 long balls.

 

- Baker & Clark have the 2nd & 6th highest ‘
shots blocked
’ stats per game. Ashley Williams leads this indicator.

 

- Lowton has the 5th highest '
interceptions
' in the league at 75 behind Williams, Vertonghen, Sandro and Schneiderlin.

 

- Ashley Westwood successfully completed 73 of 76 passes against QPR.

 

- Bannon is one of the most accurate crossers of the ball in the league with a 1-in-2 ratio (
51 successful '
crosses
' from 110 attempted
), from looking at 20-30 other crossers, the rate is higher around 1 in 3 and 1 in 4. Downing’s is 1 in 3.6.

 

Perhaps some things to look out for and be aware of;

 

1. Wiemann coming from deep/wide. We should know about this from his give-and-go with Benteke at Anfield for his goal. Here is an example from the QPR game at how he burst past the 2 QPR midfielders to give himself the chance of getting to a possible cross first.

 

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2. Supporting Benteke. This is Agbonlahor's headed goal against QPR. Look at how close they get to Benteke for a flick or knock down. Its an example of another successful cross and this is against QPR with Christopher Samba playing. It could and probably should be a tactic vs us given the simplicity of Schneiderlin's goal against us.

 

2h2le8o.png

 

 

3. Creating space out wide. Given how close the 'wide' men get to Benteke, it can create space for their full backs to get forward if they aren't tracked as Wiemann and Agbonlahor will invariably cause the oppositions full backs to come narrow to reduce the gaps down the channels. In this instance, once it went to Lowton and the RB moved out to close him down, Wiemann made the run into the channel and from the resulting cross, Villa eventually scored through Agbonlahor.

 

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Our possible team/set-up (?);

 

 

Reina

 

Johnson Carra Agger Enrique

 

Downing Gerrard Lucas Henderson

 

Sturridge Suarez

 

  1. First off, after Southampton, perhaps some more balance is needed in midfield. Henderson off the left will give Enrique the support he will need at times against Lowton & Wiemann. Also, Villa have tightened up recently as their hasn't been more than 1 goal in it either way in their last 10 games so its not like we are playing a fragile team. In their last 2 games they conceded first and still won so it demonstrates a degree of mental strenght and belief.
     
  2. Villa give up alot of possession so having Henderson in a position whereby he can come infield and link up with Gerrard and Lucas 'should' give us a foundation to dominate the ball and develop play to get the ball to the front 2 from inside their half and not like Southampton when we hit them from deep.
     
  3. I would sacrifice Coutinho and play a front 2. Sturridge and Suarez are very capable of causing Vlaar and Clark a problem. Only Reading (229) have conceded more shots on goal when playing at home than Villa (223) and Villa haven't kept a clean sheet in 18 games ! Also, Suarez could do with a partner to help with the work load upfront after the internationals. Also, Villa are hardly prolific at home with 14 goals in 15 home games so I wouldn't think there is a need to be overly cautious with 3 CM's 2 widemen and 1 striker unless there is an element of burn out after the internationals.
     
  4. Lucas could have a big game if they hit Benteke from deep (Guzan's goalkicks) and Wiemann & Agbonlahor are looking for knock downs. Perhaps deploy Lucas infront of Benteke and let Carra/Skrtel attack the ball and sandwich him out ?
     

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Someone suggested a while ago about starting a blog for these 'previews'.

 

I gave it a go for this game. Any feedback would be welcome from people with blogs on how to improve it .

 

http://roryfitz9.webnode.com/football/

 

top class stuff rory, i've been a fan from the beginning :)

 

two improvements on the blog i can think of:

- the first picture you start with here with pepe in the snow is great, captures the imagination. would be a good way to start off the blog with too

- personally i really like the date, time and where's on tv in the subheading. you could put that at the top of the blog somewhere as well. a fixture list and perhaps someway of knowing when the next blog is out would be useful too

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Someone suggested a while ago about starting a blog for these 'previews'.

 

I gave it a go for this game. Any feedback would be welcome from people with blogs on how to improve it .

 

http://roryfitz9.webnode.com/football/

 

Does WebNode allow you to add a comments section after blog posts with re-captcha integrated to minimize spam? That might encourage readers to come back to the site.

 

Great job on the posts, btw. Very interesting.

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Does WebNode allow you to add a comments section after blog posts with re-captcha integrated to minimize spam? That might encourage readers to come back to the site.

 

Great job on the posts, btw. Very interesting.

 

I've no idea pal, I dont even understand what you said to be honest !

 

I'll try look into it tomorrow or if you know about it, perhaps you can tell me. I only set this thing up yesterday.

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Thats great Rory, I think this has been your best match thread to date too.

 

I would be starting Coutinho though, Downing benched, Henderson coming in.

 

Think we weaken our attack considerably without him and he has been scoring or assisting in each game.

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Any recommended car parking near the ground?

 

I remember parking on a car park with a scout hut on it when I went to the Wycombe Wanderers tie at Villa park.... But ended up having to wipe my a*** with my sock in the scout hut loos as was desperate for a s*** and they had no bog roll

 

I daren't park there again...

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Any recommended car parking near the ground?

 

I remember parking on a car park with a scout hut on it when I went to the Wycombe Wanderers tie at Villa park.... But ended up having to wipe my a*** with my sock in the scout hut loos as was desperate for a s*** and they had no bog roll

 

I daren't park there again...

 

We parked near the ground, if you drive past the away end towards the massive alehouse that now doesnt allow away fans in.

 

go right, and there is a train station on the right, there is in industrial estate thing on the right, park on there.

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Lee Mason is the ref for Sunday.

 

We had him once this season against Stoke at home when Suarez was stamped on, got rightly booked for a silly fall and he booked 6 Stoke players though largely too late in the game as they were sharing the fouls around.

 

That was a disgrace

They should have been down to 9 men by HT

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That was a disgrace

They should have been down to 9 men by HT

 

Everyone in the ground could see what Stoke were doing from a very early stage except Mason. By the time he was willing to get the cards out on a persistent basis, any sending off would have had little impact as there would only have been about 10mins left.

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