By Sam Stone

2nd Feb, 2023 | 7:10am

View: Unai Emery must end Matty Cash Aston Villa exile

Since Unai Emery took the reins at Aston Villa he’s been a staunch supporter of Ashley Young – and has ensured the veteran has been a mainstay of his plans.

The 37-year-old has been entrusted to play on both sides of the defence, and has been preferred to Matty Cash since Polan international returned from the World Cup.

Cash has always been a solid performer for the Villans, so why exactly has his game time taken a hit in recent weeks? Cash’s last full 90-minutes came on 4 January against Wolves, so why exactly is Young viewed as a better option?

Let’s take a look at how they compare defensively first. As per Wyscout, Young has a marginally better duel success rate in the 2022/23 campaign with 61 per cent compared to Cash’s 56 per cent. The difference in their ability to win duels doesn’t feel like it’s a dealbreaker in Emery’s decision making.

Furthermore, Cash actually wins 65 per cent of his duels in the air, which is 12 per cent higher than the 37-year-old. Both players are also relatively similar when it comes to the number interceptions they complete per 90 minutes. From a defensive standpoint, it doesn’t quite make sense why Cash is being overlooked at present.

So let’s have a look at how the pair shape up in an attacking sense. Is there an element of Young’s play that dramatically stands out, and makes Emery’s decision completely justified?

Cash, in general, is more of an attacking threat for the Villans. He has an XG which is double Young’s and also averages twice as many crosses per 90 minutes, although, Young does have a super crossing accuracy.

The Poland international also has a far greater success rate when it comes to dribbling. In an attacking sense, Cash is a superior and more energetic player. Young certainly has quality going forward and has performed well, but he hasn’t been doing anything out of the ordinary.

When it comes to passing statistics, again there’s nothing between the two. Young plays more forward passes per 90 minutes, but it’s certainly not a reason to neglect Cash.

One possible argument could well be Young’s more conservative average position, which provides Aston Villa with a more rigid and structured shape. As seen below, Cash spends most of his time higher up the pitch, with is his natural instinct.

He’s a player who wants to attack and get forward at every opportunity, as opposed to Young who has a far more conservative average position.

Young’s position in the recent win over Leeds United was far more conservative and could well be why the Spaniard is favouring him at present.

Young’s average position

Regardless, it seems a shame for such a talented and progressive full back to be sat on the bench week in and week out.

The Athletic suggest (27 January) the Spaniard is eager to keep his right back in a deeper role, which allows for the opposite full back to push forward and this does tally up with Young’s average position. However, with the 37-year-old out of contract in the summer, Emery should start thinking about including Cash in his plans.

The 25-year-old is more than capable of adapting his game and it’s clear he can match Villa’s current right back in terms of underlying statistics – it’s certainly one Emery should be having a long hard think about.

Cash can count himself rather unlucky.

In other Aston Villa news, check out our review of the January window.