Aston Villa put in a spirited second-half performance to salvage a point versus high-flying Hull City. The Villians found themselves 2-0 down after just 37 minutes after some poor support from midfield.

In this piece, we will analyse how Aston Villa came back from 2-0 down to secure a 2-2 draw at home to Hull.

Villa Shape

Aston Villa started off the game with a 4-3-3 formation with the midfield and attack featuring, John McGinn, Conor Hourihane, Birkir Bjarnasson and Albert Adomah, Tammy Abraham and Yannick Bolasie respectively.

This midfield and attacking shape and structure is crucial in both goals Aston Villa conceded for different reasons. The first goal Hull scored showed a lack of awareness from Abraham in his attempts to press the ball. Whereas, the second goal showed a lack of support down the wings from players in midfield and attack, as Hull cut through Aston Villa’s right-hand side with relative ease.

Hull’s opening goal came about through the simplest of methods as a long ball surpassed a one-man press initiated by Abraham. Abraham finds himself too far up the field and should really be dropping deep to hold a compact shape with the rest of his team.

Aston Villa Hull City Championship Tactical Analysis
Abraham pressing too high up the field in the build-up to Hull City’s first goal.

The image below shows how high up the midfield find themselves as the ball is played long. So whilst they didn’t support Abraham in his high pressing against Hull’s two defenders, the Aston Villa midfield and wingers also didn’t drop deep enough to provide cover for the Aston Villa defence, especially on the left side, where they are outnumbered.

Aston Villa Hull City Championship Tactical Analysis
Aston Villa’s Left-hand side of the defence is outnumbered as the midfield and wingers find themselves too high up the pitch.

Lesson’s weren’t learnt quickly by Aston Villa’s midfield and their wingers, as just 10 minutes later they were punished, as yet again the defence was outnumbered during a counter attack for Hull’s second goal of the afternoon.

Aston Villa Hull City Championship Tactical Analysis
Alan Hutton finds himself outnumbered as both the midfield and wingers of Aston Villa are nowhere to be seen.

Aston Villa’s five-man midfield, when defending, is now just down to two, with just Hourihane and Adomah the two pictured as Hull counterattacked. This allows Kamil Grosicki and Chris Martin to exchange passes down left-side of the pitch into space inside the Aston Villa box.

Aston Villa Hull City Championship Tactical Analysis
As Grosicki is released into the box, Evandro is left unmarked and in acres of space to strike an effort into the net.

Once the ball is crossed into the Aston Villa box, Evandro is left unmarked at the back post, A man and run that should’ve been followed by the left winger Bolasie

Aston Villa Crossing Comeback

In open-play, Hull proved a stern test for Aston Villa with a strong structure and shape to their defensive play. The lack of a gap between the defence and the midfield made it hard to play through Hull. However, the narrow shape meant that Aston Villa where afforded time and space in the wide areas to create both of their goals. Crosses where a staple of Aston Villa’s performance in the second-half and it showed in the statistics. Aston Villa managed 18 crosses in the second-half of Saturday’s fixture alone. This was seven crosses more than Hull managed throughout the entire 90 minutes.

With Jack Grealish out of the side, Aston Villa found it hard to create chances from the middle of the pitch. This statistic is highlighted when you look at the number of shots Villa had compared to the amount of shots they had on target. Overall, Aston Villa had a mammoth 16 shots in the entire game, however, only two of the 16 shots were on target, and those proved to be the two goals that came from crosses.

Aston Villa’s first goal came from a set piece out wide on the right-hand side of the pitch. James Chester did well to meet the cross and head in under no pressure from the Hull defence. However, the second goal was more intricate and showed Aston Villa attempt to expose Hull weakness and their own strength from wide areas as they worked the ball wide to Hutton.

Aston Villa Hull City Championship Tactical Analysis
Aston Villa work the ball wide to Hutton, who ends up crossing the ball for their equalising goal.

Final Thoughts

Upon reflection from watching Saturday’s game and through this analysis piece, Dean Smith has a whole lot of work to do to ensure that the midfield trio and two wingers know their individual defensive responsibilities. Both of Hull’s goals came as a result of poor positioning from the front six players on the pitch. If they had dropped 10 to 15 yards further back to reduce the spaces between the three lines, then both goals would have been avoidable.

What was also apparent was Aston Villa’s over-reliance from wide positions during Saturday’s encounter. Without Jack Grealish, there seems to be a lack of creativity in the Aston Villa team, and this showed in the second-half performance, where crossing the ball seemed to be the only way for Villa to come back.