Emery Gets Pragmatic in Honing His Tactical Approach With Villa, While Cash is King

The Good, Bad and Ugly – Post Crystal Palace

You could say the game against Crystal Palace was one for the purists, but the most important thing was for Aston Villa to get over the line and win the game, in this respect the bare minimum was achieved.

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The Good

Despite the turgidness of the game, none of this could be laid at the feet of Aston Villa. Crystal Palace despite their multitude of exciting attackers turned up and showed less ambition than Stevenage did in the FA Cup.

After VAR ruled their early Wilfried Zaha strike offside, they were more concerned about stopping Villa than winning the game themselves.

This is one game that if it had turned into a firefight could have been a repeat of the Leicester game.

Villa actually put together a number of decent passing sequences and one of these led to Palace’s Joachim Anderson turning the ball into his own net for the only goal of the game.

If Ollie Watkins and John McGinn had brought their shooting boots, a final scoreline of 3-0 would probably have been fair.

Despite only winning by the own goal, Villa looked in relative control for the whole game, which after coming hot on the heels of two home games that saw them ship eight goals, was a welcome change of pace.

Villan of the Week – Matty Cash

The last three games have been a much-needed return to form for Villa’s right back. After returning from the World Cup, Cash lost his place in the squad due to wayward crossing and equally wayward defending.

Having played a major role in the last game before the World Cup against Brighton, Cash returned in awful form and low in confidence.

An assist against Arsenal, a much improved second half against Everton and then a solid game against Palace has Cash back in the team over Ashley Young and contributing with assists.

The Bad

What’s going on with tackles in the Premier League? The tackle that injured Boubacar Kamara was an absolute shocker.

This is a tackle you would have seen in the 1970s. Straight through the back of the player with no way of winning the ball, unless you took the man first.

This was only considered a yellow card offence by referee Craig Pawson. The second yellow for Cheick Doucouré was a simple hack high up Chamber’s shin.

Either of these incidents could have been considered red card offences, the first for endangering the opponent, the second for how high up the shin the contact was.

In the age of VAR, neither of these were looked at. This is the same VAR that sent Douglas Luiz off against Fulham for going chest to chest with Mitrovic. That’s just one example of dozens where players are sent off when there is no danger to the opposition.

The selective use of VAR by the PGMOL is killing the game and endangering player safety.

If Chambers had been injured as well (the referee also just allowed play to continue after the challenge), that would have been all on the referee and VAR as the Palace man should have been sent off prior.

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The Ugly

Is Unai Emery’s preferred style of football ugly?

The online chatter and audible groans from the crowd at playing out from the back would suggest it isn’t meeting with universal approval.

This is just a question, not a judgement, as most Villa fans, should prefer three points and a clean sheet at home, rather than letting in four and being entertaining.

There is a clear shift to a measured passing out from the back approach above all else under Emery and this is naturally going to come up against some groans from fans who are used to a more direct approach in the Premier League.

Unai Emery is clearly the most qualified and experienced manager Aston Villa have had since Gerrard Houllier, and there are some similarities. Houllier tried to implement a new style of play that was not popular or even successful to begin with.

Unfortunately for Houllier, illness and a lack of results hampered what could have evolved into a style of play.

The difference with Emery is, that his style gets results and more importantly points as his 500th career win as a manager against Palace showed.

The Premier League doesn’t normally afford a manager much time to experiment with a new ethos and philosophy, if it isn’t sensible and accumulating points. Emery at least now has set up the rest of this season for his players to hone his tactical approach.

Over the course of next season, it will be exciting to see where Villa can finish, even if there are games that are plain ugly on the pitch.

Because as workmanlike and functional as the games against Everton and Crystal Palace have been, they are games that other Villa managers may have lost in ’typical Villa’ style.

Follow Phil on Twitter here – @prsgame

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