Jack-Grealish-Aston-Villa-Tactical-Analysis-Analysis-Statistics

From driving a Ferrari at 20mph, Aston Villa are now pushing down on the accelerator under their new forward-thinking manager Dean Smith. This was proven during their dominant win over bitter rivals Birmingham City over the weekend.

Six games. Three wins. And three clean sheets for the former Brentford man. At the start of the campaign, Villa hit a lot of potholes in their race for promotion. But, at this moment, the road to the Premier League is beginning to smooth out.

Here, we analyse how Villa won the bragging rights in the Second City derby:

Not getting out of first gear

Aston Villa, Birmingham, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
Credit: Wyscout

In the graphic above, you can see the home side dominated the ball throughout the encounter. At one stage, between the 46th- 60th minute, Villa had a mammoth 84% possession of the ball. However, in the opening stages of the match, particularly the first half an hour, Villa did not make those possession stats count as they were lacklustre, ineffective and non-threatening.

In laymen terms, Villa were playing too safe, taking too many touches, building their attacks too slowly and being sloppy in possession.

In the below images, you can see Birmingham City’s Craig Gardner pressing Glenn Whelan, who loses possession of the ball deep into his own half. It was from moments like this where the away side were forcing corners, and as a result, troubling Villa.

Glenn Whelan, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
As the ball falls to Whelan, the Villa midfielder takes too long in releasing the ball from his feet. Credit: Wyscout
Glenn Whelan, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
As a result, Birmingham were able to win possession high up the field, push Villa deep into their box and force corners which were troubling the home side. Credit: Wyscout

In the next illustration, centre-back James Chester has two simple passing options available to him. More so to left-back Neil Taylor who is hugging the touchline. However, his risky medium-ranged pass is intercepted, which further signified the sloppiness to Villa’s opening half an hour.

James Chester, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
Instead of using Grealish or Taylor to build up an attack, Chester opts to play a ball behind the two Birmingham players on the halfway line. Credit: Wyscout
James Chester, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
Right-back Colin, from a distance, is able to read Chester’s attempted pass and Birmingham once again are on their way forward. Credit: Wyscout.

Frustrations began to boil as Villa were unable to break down their opponents or test goalkeeper Lee Camp in a meaningful manner. As a result of that frustration, playmaker Jack Grealish, alongside wingers, Jonathan Kodjia and Albert Adomah were forced deep into their own half in order to make the ball talk.

Jonathan Kodjia, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
In this instance, Villa’s attackers are way too deep, but it is a sign that things simply weren’t working for them in the opening stages of this match. Credit: Wyscout.

Midfielder Conor Hourihane put the icing on a now sour tasting cake when his attempted long-range pass ended up going out for a goal kick.

Conor Hourihane, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
Hourihane is attempting to switch play in order to spark Villa’s game into life. Credit: Wyscout.
Conor Hourihane, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
As you can see, Hourihane’s pass doesn’t even come close to reaching any of his teammates. Credit: Wyscout.

Not reading the road signs

As a result of Villa constantly losing possession, Garry Monk’s side were able to attack in an efficient manner and target their opponents’ penalty area. Prior to the match, Birmingham had scored eight goals from set-piece situations, whilst Villa had conceded ten goals from dead ball situations. Something was going to give!

In the image below, you can see that number 26, Kodjia loses his marker, Lukas Jutkiewicz. At that exact moment, the target-man is five yards away from giving his side the lead as he isn’t quick enough to react to Villa’s failure to pick him up.

Jutkiewicz, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
Jutkiewicz’ clever movement results in Kodjia losing his marker, but the Birmingham man is unable to get anything on the loose ball. Credit: Wyscout

Not long after, Monk’s men win another corner and this time Jutkiewicz is ready to punish Villa, who fail to pick him up once again. The former Burnley player ghosts around the home side’s defence and ends up scoring Birmingham’s first goal at Villa Park in ten years. The signs were there during previous corners, but the signals were not read by Smith’s side.

Jutkiewicz, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
Jutkiewicz is ready to blindside the Villa players with a run in behind. In the middle of your screen, Jutkiewicz’s marker, Whelan, is being prevented from getting to the Birmingham man. Credit: Wyscout
Jutkiewicz, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
Credit: Wyscout

Before Villa’s comeback, the away side would go onto hit the post with Che Adams, who failed to double his side’s lead. Ultimately, he was punished for it…

Putting your foot on the accelerator

Villa only started their engine when they went a goal behind, but when they got going, they well and truly punished their neighbours. The Claret & Blue outfit showcased their ability to move the ball quicker, overload in the wide areas and inside the box, which resulted in them producing a stunning comeback.

After going behind in the match, Villa began to push higher up the pitch and switch play a lot quicker. In the first image, Monk’s side are dragged to one side of the pitch as Whelan attempts to switch the ball to the other flank in a quick fashion.

Aston Villa, Birmingham, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
Moving the ball quickly to the other flank results in Birmingham being outnumbered on the right-hand side. Credit: Wyscout.

As a result of that, right-back Alan Hutton has acres of space ahead of him, but most importantly, he has the option of playing a through ball to Albert Adomah, who doesn’t have an opposition player anywhere near him.

Alan Hutton, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
Credit: Wyscout

From there, Smith’s tactic of overloading the box pays off as Kodjia brilliantly controls the ball and finds the back of the net to level the scores.

Jonathan Kodjia, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
Credit: Wyscout

Two minutes later, Birmingham are once again being overloaded on the flanks, and in the penalty area as Villa search for a second. Unable to prevent the cross, Adomah lays the ball on a plate for Solihull-born Jack Grealish, who heads his side into the lead.

Jack Grealish, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
It is a three on one situation for the Blues, who also have to be wary of the three players entering their penalty area. Credit: Wyscout
Jack Grealish, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
As a result of outnumbering Birmingham out wide, Adomah has enough time to deliver a pin-point cross for Grealish. Credit: Wyscout
Jack Grealish, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
The boyhood Villa fan scores his first goal against his bitter rivals. Credit: Wyscout

Hutton the driving force

From there, Villa were hard to stop as they raced into a 3-1 lead after the break following Tammy Abraham’s penalty kick. Kristian Pedersen did pull one back, but the aptly-named ‘Scottish Cafu’ produced arguably the greatest moment in Second City derby history.

As you can see from the image below, Hutton charges for the loose ball inside his own half and begins a lung-busting journey the Villa Park faithful will never forget.

Alan Hutton, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
Credit: Wyscout

As he enters Birmingham’s half, the former Scotland international has the option of passing the ball out wide to Kodjia. Hutton declines.

Alan Hutton, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
Credit: Wyscout

Instead, he continues to charge forward as the option of passing to Kodjia is still available and playing a forward pass to Chelsea loanee Abraham.

Alan Hutton, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
Credit: Wyscout

Once again, ‘the Scottish Cafu’ declines as he is now surrounded by five opposition players, with Jacques Maghoma doing his best to push him off the ball.

Alan Hutton, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
Credit: Wyscout

None of that works as Hutton enters the penalty area and slots the ball home with his weaker foot to send the 42,000 strong crowd into party mode.

Alan Hutton, Aston Villa, Tactical Analysis, Statistics
Credit: Wyscout

Conclusion

Aston Villa are now thirteen league games unbeaten against Birmingham following that deserved victory over the weekend. Added with that, the Blues have not tasted victory at the home of their bitter rivals since 2004. Villa’s dominance in this hotly-contested fixture is there for all to see. However, their focus will now turn to Wednesday when they will take on Nottingham Forest before a trip to Tony Pulis’ Middlesbrough at the weekend. Under Smith’s new style, a top-six finish for Villa is a real possibility. Whether they can challenge the top-two spot could be answered in these next six weeks with a high number of tough fixtures coming up.