Villa Analysis: Villa Comfortably Brushes Aside Burnley
By Alex Martinez
Aston Villa secured their third consecutive victory against Burnley, triumphing with a dominant 3-1 win. Matty Cash shone brightly, netting two goals, while Diaby added one more to ensure the Villains walked away with all three points. Despite having just 43% of possession, Villa made good use of the ball when they had it, mainly due to the composure and passing range of Diego Carlos and Pau Torres.
Villa’s increasing cohesion of their build up play from the back, certainly started to click during the match. Apart from a brief 10-minute period at the beginning of the second half, Villa were in total control, primarily due to the ball-playing defenders, press resistant midfielders and a switch of one plater’s normal starting position.
Matty Cash’s Influence
Matty Cash marked his 100th appearance with one of his best performances in a Villa shirt, scoring two goals in the opening 20 minutes. His last goal came on the final day of the 22/23 season, in a 3-2 loss to Manchester City. The key was perhaps the change role Emery gave him. Deployed as a right midfielder in a 4-4-2 formation out of possession and as a right midfielder in a 3-5-2 while in possession, Cash excelled in both positions, aligning perfectly with Emery’s system. He registered some impressive contributions, including two goals (the highest in the squad), three tackles (second most), seven duels won (second best), and three shots on target (leading the squad). Cash delivered a brilliant performance.
What made Cash so effective was his ability to operate all along the right hand side. In his Nottingham Forest days, he initially played as a Right Winger. Off the ball, he appeared more comfortable and displayed dynamic movement in his positioning. During the match, he frequently made incisive runs into the opposition’s box, and he was as frequent in Burnley’s box as Watkins was.
Main Focus: Ball-Playing Centre Backs
Despite Burnley enjoying 57% of possession, the main influence that gave Villa control of the majority of the game was how Emery’s tweaked centre-back formation ran the game. The transformative back three largely displayed composure and confidence with the ball at their feet. Pau Torres occasionally ventured into midfield to advance the ball, taking on players to spray the ball out to the wings.
Pau Torres, is recognised as one of European football’s best ball carrying centre-backs and it’s a reputation that is playing out in the Premier League. In the first two game weeks of the season, he led the league in progressive carries with 40. Last season in La Liga, he made more progressive carries than any other player, with 215. Against Burnley, he recorded 28 carries, covering an average distance of 191 yards. He also delivered a progressive passing distance of 282 yards, ranking fourth best in the team. Furthermore, Torres contributed seven ball recoveries, with only Douglas Luiz surpassing him with nine.
However, Torres was largely at fault for Burnley’s second goal, due to him being outmuscled. This concern had been raised prior to his signing, suggesting he may need time to adapt to the league’s physicality, particularly without the presence of Tyrone Mings alongside him.
Diego Carlos, making his first full Premier League start in a year due to an ACL injury that sidelined him for the majority of last season, had a very good game. The stats certainly back up his display, especially in his ability to cover ground when Burnley attempted balls over the top. His match statistics included the most touches (77), the most interceptions (2), the second-highest number of completed passes (50), the most carries (42), and the greatest progressive carrying distance (104 yards).
This contribution was key to the result and in relieving Burnley’s early second-half pressure, and his precise distribution across the defense kept Burnley guessing.
The final factor that enabled Villa to secure a comfortable victory was the sheer quality of our defensive midfielders, Boubacar Kamara and Douglas Luiz. Time and time again, these two players have been at the core of our attacks, whether it be through providing assists or maintaining possession throughout the match.
Kamara had a 91% pass accuracy, won 8 out of 11 ground duels, achieved a 100% successful dribble rate, completed two carries into the final third, and successfully tackled three opposition players.
Luiz contributed three shot-creating actions, completed 37 passes, maintained a 74% pass completion rate, delivered three progressive passes, and executed four progressive carries.
The partnership between these two midfielders has been nothing short of incredible. Kamara excels as the more defensive, ball-winning midfielder, while Luiz now operates as the more advanced, progressive playmaker. Kamara effectively shut down Burnley’s attacks in the right side spaces, while Luiz’s midfield dominance complemented his midfield partner’s efforts.
Villa maintained control for the majority of the match, thanks to the combination of the ball-playing abilities of Torres and Carlos, and the press resistance of Luiz and Kamara. With a clash against a Virgil Van Dijk-less Liverpool up next, Villa will undoubtedly being eyeing up a positive result at Anfield like last season.
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