The Preview to Aston Villa’s Crucial Loss to Bournemouth

Posted for the record… the preview to the crucial clash with Bournemouth, that Villa lost 2-1…

By Dean Gregory

Bournemouth vs Aston Villa

After making it to Wembley in dramatic fashion on tuesday, Villa return to league action against fellow relegation candidates Bournemouth.

A bad run of form has left them in the relegation zone, but they will be buoyed by an encouraging display against Brighton. They will hope to carry that performance into this six-pointer. Meanwhile, Villa’s sporadic form sees them safe, but not clear of danger by a long way.

Can Villa put more daylight between them and the drop zone?

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League Form

Bournemouth – L L L L W

Aston Villa – L W L D W

Manager Quotes

Eddie Howe on possible Joshua King exit

“I’m not going to deny anything you have read but I don’t want to talk about it too much. He is much valued and loved by us.

“He is a massive part of our team, he brings that unique pace and strength, coupled with technical ability and an eye for goal.

“We have missed him since he has been out injured, so speaking as manager I would be very reluctant to let him leave. With a day to go in the window it’s very difficult to find a replacement.

“It’s going to be [a decision] between the chief executive and owner. I love Josh as a player and person. I know what Manchester United means to him with his history with the club, so I understand his position.”

Dean Smith on another big match

“It’s a very big game, but no bigger than the ones against Watford, Brighton and Burnley.

“I’m very respectful of Eddie Howe and what he’s done because Bournemouth are an established Premier League team now.

“We’ve got to make sure that we’ve got the consistency of our performance because it’s very easy to have the highs of reaching a cup final in front of 40,000 fans and then going to a smaller ground.

“We’ve got to make sure there’s no complacency on our part because Bournemouth showed last week against Brighton what they can do if you don’t turn up.”

Tactical Analysis

Bournemouth’s go-to lineup is usually some variation of a 4-4-2, with Callum Wilson and Joshua King partnering up top, Harry Wilson and Ryan Fraser on the wings, with Steve Cook and Nathan Aké the prefered centre backs.

While they do try to play with patience in the build-up, their 47.1% possession average and 76.9% passing accuracy suggests that it does not always work in their favour. These are not terrible numbers, but for a team for whom 83% of all passes are played short, they could be a fair bit better.

They average 56 long balls per game, just 13% of their total passing output, which suggests this is a tactic they will avoid for as long as they possibly can. This makes sense – they are not known for being brilliant in the air, especially not in attack. King wins 2.7 aerial duels per game while losing 2.9, while Callum Wilson only wins 1.1, losing 3.9 on average.

Against players who are known for being good in the air such as Mings and Hause, they will likely not be hedging their bets. They will try to keep the ball on the ground as much as they can, and look to play through Villa’s midfield.

Bournemouth have managed 23 goals from a total xG of 26.48. This is an underperformance of 3.48 xG – again, not a terrible number, but not an encouraging one. Only Watford have scored less goals than them, and they are struggling to fashion the quality chances they really need.

Defensively, they have conceded 37 goals, which for a team in their position is about right, if not slightly less than would be expected. They employ a low block and their full backs are not expected to help in attack too much. Between them, they have 2.77 xA (expected assists) total over the season.

Bournemouth are not the sort of team that will blow their opponents away, but they can still pose a threat to Villa and should not be underestimated.

One to Watch

Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson is Bournemouth’s current top scorer with seven goals, a stat which is much more impressive when you realise his total xG for the season is just 2.61. He is fast, tricky and has a hell of a good shot.

On the flip side, zero assists for a winger is alarming – whether that’s to do with him being selfish or simply the quality of the strikers he is working with is the question.

Memory Match

Bournemouth 0-1 Aston Villa – 08-08-2015

Rudy “Just-Head” Gestede’s 75th minute header on the opening day of the season gave Villa fans false hope, and proved to be a sobering welcome to the Premier League for Bournemouth.

Previous Result

Aston Villa 1-2 Bournemouth – 17-08-2019

A rare clanger from Tom Heaton gave Joshua King a second minute penalty. Just ten minutes later, Harry Wilson made it 0-2 and from that point on, the result looked all but decided.

A truly fantastic goal from Douglas Luiz showed that this Villa would not simply roll over and let themselves be beaten, however. It wasn’t enough for a result, but it was plenty to keep spirits high.

How it could play out

A dismal run of six games without a win (1D, 5L), in which they scored only one goal, came to an end when they convincingly beat Brighton 3-1. It will have given them hope that they are only keeping their spot in the relegation zone warm for somebody else, and a win here would see them lifted to relative safety for the time-being.

Of course, Villa are also coming into this on the back of two inspiring, last-gasp victories, one in the league and one in the cup, and will be riding that high all the way down to the south coast. A change in tactics and formation, along with the arrival of a striker at last, sees Villa in shape to attack the second half of the season with renewed gusto.

New boy Mbwana Samatta made his debut against Leicester as expected. His withdrawal was due to a lack of match fitness, which suggests he still needs time to get up to full speed, but from what he showed the signs are promising. His movement in and around the box was a real breath of fresh air, and with the service he was getting it won’t be long before he finds himself on the score sheet.

How well will Aké and Cook deal with him? They are both pretty good at clearing and intercepting, particularly Aké, so Samatta might just have a lesson in the ways of the Premier League here.

Meanwhile, Villa fans can be confident in the ability of Hause, Mings and Konsa to keep Bournemouth’s strikers at bay. The real threat will come from Villa’s left flank in the form of Harry Wilson, so Targett and, to a degree, Grealish will need to work together to keep him in check.

He is not their only threat of course – of the two strikers, it is Callum Wilson (no relation) who is the more prolific, with six goals of his own this season. He is directly up against Hause and Mings, both big, powerful, ball-playing center backs. They should have his number comfortably enough, but both of them are not above making costly mistakes.

All in all, this looks like it should be a solid competition. Both teams will know how important a win is, so expect to see plenty of effort, if nothing else.