How Aston Villa beat Manchester City – A Tactical and Statistical View

aston villa tactics

The Tactical and Statistical Secret Behind Villa’s First Home Win


It’s unsurprising that a few Aston Villa supporters are still thinking how did that happen? So after a fantastic result and a seemingly dubious first half-half for Villa, here is an insight into the Aston Villa tactics that achieved their first home win of the season.


1.We narrowed the pitch

Here are the players average positions in the game. Villa are on the left and City on the right:


 villa tactics



Although playing a version of 3-5-2 on paper, Leandro Bacuna (number 7) and Antonio Luna (14), at right wing-back and left wing-back respectively, are very narrow, with Delph sat further back than the full-backs. Typically in a formation with wingbacks, the width comes from them. Instead, Bacuna and Luna tucked in slightly. Essentially, Villa made the pitch smaller, and ensured that wide players Milner (7) and Nasri (8) had to play more centrally to combat more central players in the Villa team. This stopped City from stretching the packed Villa defence and central area. Kolarov and Zabaleta became wing-backs, and both looked very dangerous in advanced positions. This was a risk Villa took when bringing in their midfield and attack to more central positions to stop Kolarov/Nasri and Zabaleta/Milner partnerships down the wing. City had 21 attempts at goal, but were unable to cut Villa open down the wings.


2. Defending as a team

Having more players in central areas isn’t going to be enough against Man City to get a result. We needed to be aware when making tackles and interceptions. Villa were able to tackle City in the wide areas, shown below:




Winning the ball on the wings quickly was key to ensure City not penetrating down the sides of the pitch. Villa also made 6 blocks from City shots, Delph contributing 2 of these. Clark, Baker and Vlaar contributed 16 clearances between them.


3. With no Benteke and Agbonlahor, Weimann was allowed to play centrally


With Benteke, playing all but one game up front alone before the City game, and Agbonlahor, Benteke’s partner up front against Norwich, both missing through injury, Weimann was given the role of playing down the middle.


Villa tactics


From the heat map, his average position is very advanced, with the odd venture out wide to support the wingers and to pick out space that was available due to the narrow Villa formation. His goal from a flick on from his strike partner Kozak, and an assist from a Nastasic foul after an excellent forward run show that Weimann is dangerous in the middle. His average position is behind Kozak, indicating a supporting role to Benteke may be a possibility.


Also, Weimann’s pass success was 85% – my article last week showed that Weimann’s average pass success was 74%; another dramatic improvement.


4. Capitalising on Man City mistakes


Like Kompany said in his Match of the Day interview, City made 3 mistakes and conceded 3 goals. Kozak and Weimann put pressure on Kompany and in particular Nastasic – Nastasic could be partially blamed for all 3 goals. Playing two strikers gives more for the opposition centre-backs to worry about – a 2 vs. 2 situation is less common these days so the worry becomes when the central midfielder breaks forward to join the attacker to create this 2 vs. 2 situation.  Weimann, as a natural striker, is able to do this. Villa on the other hand played three centre-backs to combat the two attackers Dzeko and Negredo.


5. Manchester City not making more from corners!


As we all know, Villa aren’t great at defending corners. Villa were caught out three times from short corners (see the green arrows below). However, maybe City would have been better off-putting them into the area – we conceded two goals from in-swinging corners from the left in the game!


Villa tactics



6. A little bit of fortune


Even with all of the above, we needed a little help from the linesman. El Ahmadi, despite a good finish, was offside. I say, after the Chelsea game, the luck has evened itself out!

Furthermore, what’s interesting is comparing the number of tackles we made against City and Liverpool (our last home game). Against City we made 11 interceptions and 18 tackles. Against Liverpool we made 20 interceptions and 31 tackles. Because of this, City managed 21 attempts and goal and Liverpool made only 5.  Because of the amount of fantastic players in the middle for City, and Villa choosing to sit back, this resulted in chances in central areas for City:


villa tactics


Fortunately, City could not finish off their chances, and 31 clearances from Villa kept City away from our goal for long enough to ensure the most important stat of all: 3-2.


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