By Dan Carter

22nd Aug, 2023 | 10:10am

New freedom will see Aston Villa get the best out of John McGinn in attack this season

Aston Villa will likely get the best out of John McGinn in attack this season, with investment in midfield offering the Scotsman more freedom than ever before at Villa Park.

The Scotsman managed to score his first goal of the season in Unai Emery’s side’s first win of the season as they battered Everton 4-0 and the more advanced role he found himself in could be a sign of what is to come for the Midlands’ club this campaign.

Deployed as the most advanced player in a midfield trio of Douglas Luiz and Boubacar Kamara, the Villa skipper was afforded more freedom to attack than ever before, allowing him to already equal his goal tally from last season.

Discussing his position, McGinn was quoted by the Athletic (21 August) as saying: “I think he’s wanting more goals from the wide players. We had a chat about it in pre-season and I promised him more goals. I didn’t think it would be the second game of the season that I got it but I did make a promise of more goals.

“Having both him (Kamara) and Douglas, I mean they’re world-class players. We’ve got Youri (Tielemans) who can come into that as well. So our system allows me to kind of roam and be a little freer, the same as Moussa (Diaby) and whoever plays in that position.”

McGinn is capable of carrying a genuine goal threat for Villa as displayed during the 2018/19 season where he managed to find the net on nine occasions and his awareness to find space in the area for his tap-in against Everton showed movement more like a striker than an industrious midfielder.

During the 2018/19 Championship campaign, McGinn was one of the most threatening midfielders in the division in front of goal, sitting in the 93rd percentile of his positional peers for shots per 90 minutes played, with an average of 2.5, according to his Fbref scouting report.

His profile in the final season in England’s second tier was comparable to the likes of Mason Mount (who was at Derby Count) and a whole host of Championship attacking midfielders such as Jamie Paterson and John Swift.

The advantage McGinn offers to Emery and Villa is that his work-rate is so impressive both in attack and defence that a more advanced role won’t see him slouch in transition. Against Everton, he still managed an impressive five recoveries and won seven ground duals.

Villa will need his goals

Emery has made it clear to the wide-men at Aston Villa that he wants them to score more goals and so far it seems like they have taken that guidance on board, but it will have to be sustained for the entirety of the season for Villa to challenge for Europe once again.

Last year behind Ollie Watkins’ 15 Premier League goals, the next highest scorer was Danny Ings who found the net six times before joining West Ham in January, level with Jacob Ramsey and Douglas Luiz.

Villa will need goals to come from all over the pitch throughout this season and with Ramsey currently injured and Philippe Coutinho picking up a knock against Everton, McGinn may have to fill the boots of his absent attacking midfielders.

He is more than capable of doing an excellent job in that advanced role, thanks to Villa’s excellent midfield recruitment around him this summer.

In other Aston Villa news, Leon Bailey is currently under investigation after an alleged incident at Villa Park