Aston Villa Midfield Woe
There’s a hole in Villa’s midfield, dear Lambert, dear Lambert, there’s a hole in Villa’s midfield, dear Lambert, a hole.
If Villa had to play a midweek fixture this week Paul Lambert would be scratching his head as to who to pick in midfield. Basically, Carlos Sanchez is the only out-and-out Villa midfielder currently fit.
Tom Cleverley and Ashley Westwood both joined the growing Villa injury list, victims of tough-tackling Leicester on Sunday, making it three midfielders to hit the medical bay in a week after Joe Cole did his hamstring against Crystal Palace.
With the Cleverley, Westwood, Cole all joining the long-term injured Fabian Delph, it could be argued that Villa are currently missing its first choice midfield and it’s far from ideal to have it sitting on the sidelines with the busy Christmas fixture list on the horizon.
Add that to the fact that Villa are missing their original first three choice centre-backs and the club has some fundamental injury problems to contend with.
Aston Villa Midfield Estimated Returns
Fabian Delph – Mid-December
Ashley Westwood – New Year.
Joe Cole – one to two weeks (but who knows with him)
Tom Cleverley – all being well, against West Brom
Some times though there can be silver linings. In the case of the centre-back problem, injuries to Vlaar, Senderos and Baker gave Okore and Clark the chance to blossom and potentially claim first team spots as their own. The midfield injuries could have opened up an opportunity for Gary Gardner to finally prove himself but unfortunately he finds himself out on loan at Brighton.
Left to fill the midfield void will be Kieran Richardson, Leandro Bacuna, Chris Herd and potentially Jack Grealish (who gave a good account of himself when he came on against Leicester).
Tom Cleverley is at least expected to overcome a bruised foot to play against the Baggies, and hopefully he’ll be fully recovered as he’ll be essential to give the Villa midfield a bit of energy and fight in what will be an eagerly contested game in the middle of the park as usual.
While Kieran Richardson is perhaps the conservative choice to join Cleverley and Sanchez, I would be tempted to utilise Grealish. He took over set piece duty against Leicester after Westwood’s injury and was progressive in his link-up play going forward (ala Cole against Burnley).
If Lambert is to believed when he professed this week that there had been a change in the mentality in the approach of his team (after his midweek trip to Munich), then Grealish maybe the way forward to cover Westwood’s absence.
The Lambert 4-3-3 might need some tweaking in how it sets up, with the wider forwards having one eye on supporting the midfield when the opposition have the ball, but certainly Grealish would be the positive choice.
There’s no doubt that Villa are on breaking point now with injuries as they could ill afford to lose another midfielder or defender to injury. The return of Christian Benteke to the starting line-up certainly makes up for a lot of injury woe, but the Christmas period as is becoming traditional under Lambert will no doubt serve up some tough medicine for Villa to swallow.
More on Gary Gardner and Villa’s midfield here
More on what Westwood brings to Villa here
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