It is fair to say it has been a rollercoaster start to life at Aston Villa for goalkeeper Orjan Nyland. From conceding five goals at home to Nottingham Forest to keeping clean sheets at promotion rivals Derby County and Middlesbrough. Early life between the sticks at Villa has been, for most of the time, strenuous for the Norway keeper.
Here, we analyse the mistakes Nyland has made this season, which have proven to be costly for Villa, and why they have occurred.
Nyland v Johnstone
Since January 2017, Sam Johnstone was Villa’s main guy in goal, with the former Manchester United man appearing in two separate loan spells from Old Trafford. However, financial troubles over the summer thwarted Villa’s chances of signing him on a permanent basis
But during his time in the Midlands, the now-West Brom player was a popular figure amongst supporters.
As you can see from the image above, Johnstone conceded less than a goal a game under the now-sacked Steve Bruce last season as Villa reached the play-off finals. Added with that, Johnstone was also making just over three saves per game for Bruce’s robust Villa side.
Over the course of the campaign, the Manchester United academy graduate conceded 41 goals in 48 matches. Added with that, he secured 20 clean sheets, with promoted duo Wolves and Cardiff the only sides shipping in fewer goals.
Compare Johnstone’s stats with Nyland’s and you are already seeing a visible rise in key areas for the error-ridden goalkeeper. Whilst Johnstone conceded under a goal a game, his replacement is shipping 1.34 goals per match so far this season. Furthermore, Nyland is facing more shots and saving fewer attempts than his counterpart.
Nyland has missed two Championship matches for Villa this term, but during his 18 games on the pitch, he has conceded 26 goals and kept five clean sheets. This time last season, Johnstone had conceded just 17 goals, with the opposition prevented from scoring on seven occasions.
Chop & Change
One of the many reasons behind Nyland’s troublesome start has been what has occurred around him since he walked through the doors at B6. First and foremost, he has had to cope with a side that lost a play-off final in May, was on the verge of a financial meltdown, and lost a number of senior players over the summer.
As a result of that, Bruce battled hard to find the right formula for a deflated Villa side as he ended up playing a number of players out of position. Tactical tweaks which did not help Nyland’s cause.
As you can see from the image above, Villa have been unable to settle into a single formation, but with the arrival of Dean Smith in October, they are now deploying a 4-3-3 formation.
It must also be noted that since Smith’s appointment, Villa have gone from defending deep with wingers constantly tracking back to deploying a high-line with CB’s on the halfway line and full-backs in the opposition half. Being more attacking, taking more risks will result in more goals being conceded, especially for a side that already had problems at the back with a defensive-minded coach.
Mistake After Mistake
In only Nyland’s second game, against Ipswich away, he was already showcasing his weaknesses to the supporters.
As you can see from the illustration above, following a throw-in to the home side, Nyland comes off his line to try and punch the ball out of danger. Instead, he fluffs his lines and the ball ends up falling loose to an Ipswich player as the Tractor Boys equalise.
During the next match, with Smith still in charge of Brentford, the game is poised at 1-1, with ten minutes remaining on the clock.
Brentford forward Ollie Watkins fires a shot straight at the former Ingolstadt player. The ball is hit at a decent pace and is just above the keeper’s eye line. Rather than parrying the ball out of danger, as you can see from the two images above, Nyland’s half-hearted save ends up going above his head and falling to Neal Maupay, who puts his side into the lead. Teammate Jonathan Kodjia heads in a stoppage-time equaliser to, ironically, save Nyland’s blushes.
Two games later, away at Sheffield United, Nyland is displaying more problematic issues in his game. Chris Wilder’s side storm into a 2-0 lead before they are given a free-kick on the right-hand side.
As you can see from the examples above, Ollie Norwood’s shot/cross is fired into Nyland’s near post. Unable to deal with it, the Norway international produces another mistake and concedes another soft goal.
There is only a certain amount of leeway you can give Nyland and there is only a certain amount you can defend him. During the first part of the season, the Norwegian has made countless and ultimately costly mistakes. In three out of his opening five games, Nyland’s errors led to the opposition scoring.
In the next example, Nyland, once again, fails to show authority when coming off his line for a cross.
In this case, as you can see in the illustration above, Norwich equalise after Nyland fails to punch the ball out of a danger following a corner. As a result, the home team equalise and later on they go onto win the encounter.
In the most dramatic game of the Championship season thus far, Villa for the first time since their relegation to the second tier of English football conceded five goals. For at least two of those strikes, Nyland should be bitterly disappointed.
In the first image, midfielder Joe Lolley attempts a shot from outside of the box, with the game level a 3-3.
Proven in the image above. Initially, there is nothing wrong with Nyland’s positioning as he can see the shot coming from a distance and he is preparing himself to react.
However, another error of judgment from the former Molde player costs the home side dearly. As you can see from the image above, Nyland opts to step to his right-hand side despite the ball coming to his left-hand side.
As a result of that shift in weight to the wrong side, Nyland loses balance and cannot attempt to save the shot. Instead of attempting to save the shot, he is back peddling inside the goal, along with the ball. At that moment, Forest go onto to lead the game 3-2.
As the match wore on, Villa astonishingly ended up leading the game 5-4, with ten minutes remaining on the clock.
In the image above, striker Lewis Grabban is being forced out wide by centre-back Axel Tuanzebe. This limits how Grabban can score as he can now only find the back of the net via the near post.
With Tuanzebe ensuring Grabban cannot fire the ball to the goalkeeper’s right, Nyland should have the near post covered as he has positioned himself in the correct place.
There is no doubt that Villa miss Johnstone’s presence and stability in between the sticks. Nyland has big shoes to fill, and at this moment in time, he is proving to be problematic for the club’s leaky defence. It could be argued that the mess over the summer, the self-inflicting tactics from Bruce and a lack of solidity in front of him has played a major part in that. But along the way, the former Bundesliga player has not helped himself. The transfer window will re-open next month and Villa would be daft not to dip in the goalkeeping market.
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