It has been a difficult month for Aston Villa following fixtures with Manchester City, Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers. The international break arrives at a good time for the Villains with Dean Smith able to assess his team and get ready for a busy run of fixtures.
International Break Timed Well for Aston Villa
Aston Villa will be delighted that the international break has arrived following a difficult set of fixtures. Dean Smith’s team have suffered three consecutive losses to Liverpool, Manchester City and Wolves. The Villains have been competitive especially in the games with City and Liverpool but, they were lacklustre at Molineux as Wolves bulldozed them.
The competitive matches have caught up with Smith’s squad and he will be happy the international break gives his team a chance to assess the issues as well rest up for a busy run of matches. Smith was extremely unhappy with his team at Wolves following a very poor first-half display which cost them the match. He compared their performance to the worst under his tenure which was a heavy loss at Wigan Athletic during the promotion campaign. The international break will allow Smith and his squad to recoup and go again with a crucial match with Newcastle United to come at Villa Park.
Aston Villa’s Injury Problems Will Slowly Ease
As well as a disappointing set of results in recent weeks, Aston Villa’s injury list has increased with key players missing. Jack Grealish, most notably, has been unavailable since the loss at Manchester City. Villa’s captain missed the defeats to Liverpool and Wolves and creativity was lacking in both games. He will be crucial when back in the team with Smith confident of having him back for the Newcastle game.
Dean Smith was dealt a double blow before the Wolves game with first-choice keeper Tom Heaton ruled out with a calf injury. Smith also lost centre back Bjorn Engels with a hip injury. Heaton and Engels have been ever-present in Villa’s backline and you could see they missed them both at Molineux. However, Ezri Konsa did step up alongside Tyrone Mings so Smith does have a selection problem for the Newcastle game. Both Heaton and Engels are expected to be available for that clash with Newcastle.
However, Jota and Keinan Davis are a few weeks away from a return. Spanish playmaker Jota has been unavailable for the last month following surgery on a hernia but is back in training.
A Busy End to 2019 Lies Ahead
Despite their injury concerns and dip in form, Aston Villa will relish the chance to end the year on a high with a busy month of fixtures to come. Villa face Newcastle, Manchester United, Chelsea, Leicester City, Sheffield United, Southampton, Norwich City and Watford. They also face Burnley on New Year’s Day in a tough run of matches.
Villa’s issues have been seeing out games and conceding goals in the final ten minutes of matches. Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool have worn Villa down and scored goals to take points away from them. Wolves secured their win in the final ten minutes with a killer second goal. Concentration and mistakes have cost Villa, but they are learning each week and have shown improvements on the pitch. Eleven points is a harsh return for a team that has competed well and arguably should have more points.
Aston Villa will be ready for a busy month of games. Dean Smith will be plotting a response from their loss to Wolves. His injury list will ease provided none of his players on international duty return with injuries. The Villains need to ignite their season again and Smith will be ready to tackle a big month of fixtures.