Aston Villa problems laid bare in Liverpool loss as John McGinn struggles
Four games into the Premier League campaign and it is difficult to ascertain exactly where Aston Villa are right now in terms of their development under Unai Emery.
That is not a knee-jerk reaction on the back of losing to Liverpool, but merely an observation on the basis of inconsistent performances.
The Villans have recorded two disappointing results (5-1 at Newcastle United and 3-0 at Liverpool), either side of a couple of positive results (4-0 v Everton and 3-1 versus Burnley).
Add a thumping 8-0 Europa Conference League play-off victory against Hibernian across two legs into the equation, and there have definitely been more positives than negatives thus far.
However, a couple of issues were laid bare in the one-sided game at Anfield on Sunday [3 September].
With that defeat, Villa have now won just one of their last seven away games in the Premier League and have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last eight games on the road [Opta Analyst].
Indeed, the Villans have won eight league games in a row at home stretching back into last season, keeping a clean sheet in six of those, so it is clear to see where improvement is needed.
Against Liverpool, as was also brutally exposed at Newcastle on the opening weekend of the season, Villa’s high line just did not function as it should have.
John McGinn in particular struggled in the middle of the park, ending the game with a pass-accuracy percentage of 66.7, which was the lowest of any Villa starter [WhoScored].
McGinn also failed to win a tackle or intercept the ball on a single occasion at Anfield, which is strange for him given he is usually at the heart of most things at Villa Park.
Granted, Emery’s side have not been helped by injuries, with Diego Carlos the latest defender to hobble off inside the opening quarter of the match at Anfield.
This is not to say Emery needs to have a huge tactical rethink, but rather finetune the way he wants his side to play, ideally in time for Villa’s return to action after the international break.
On their current trajectory, Villa will be great fun to watch this season but will lurch from sublime to disappointing in equal measure.
With a bit of work on the training ground, though, the positive results will outweigh the negatives in what could turn out to be a truly great season.
In other Aston Villa news, one visiting player in particular struggled against Liverpool at the weekend.