Clement Lenglet should make Aston Villa debut as Unai Emery sweats on Diego Carlos
So far this campaign few Premier League sides have had as rotten luck as Aston Villa in terms of injuries, from Tyrone Mings’ season-ending issue on the opening day to Emi Buendia’s significant knee injury.
Diego Carlos was the latest victim of Unai Emery’s side’s torrid luck, being withdrawn early in Villa’s defeat to Liverpool with a knock that the Spanish manager claimed would not keep him sidelined for too long.
But the Premier League fixtures are about to get up and running once again after the international break and with Emery’s side set to return to action against Crystal Palace on Saturday (16 August) it is unknown whether or not the Brazilian will be fit to play.
That does create an opportunity for someone to step into his place and the man to benefit this weekend could be new signing Clement Lenglet, who joined the ranks at Villa Park on loan from Barcelona this summer and is yet to make his debut for the Villains.
Having spent last season in the Premier League with Tottenham, the French centre-back is a very able deputy for Emery to have at his disposal and is one of the best defenders in terms of his on-the-ball ability in the whole of Europe.
According to his Fbref scouting report, in the last year, the 28-year-old has been one of the most progressive players in the whole of Europe in his position, placing in the 94th percentile for progressive carries per 90 minutes played, with an average of 1.54.
Lenglet is not afraid to spend time on the ball either, he completes an average of 64.75 passes a game, better than 80 per cent of his positional peers in the top five European leagues and typically averages a completion rate of 86.2 per cent.
Defensively, the 28-year-old is strong in the tackle, falling in the 78th percentile for tackles per match, but falls in the bottom 25 per cent of all defenders for interceptions and clearances, but that could suggest that he typically attempts to play out from the back rather than clear his lines.
His tackle rate (1.94 per 90 mins) is much higher than that of Pau Torres (1.32 per game) and Ezri Konsa (1.17) and Lenglet betters the latter in terms of interceptions, blocks and aerials won per game so could well be the perfect solution should Carlos not be able to play.
Emery has swapped between playing a back four and five so far this season and what he opts for against Roy Hodgson’s side could determine whether or not the 28-year-old features from the start at Villa Park.
If he decides to use the four that saw Villa romp past Hibernian and Everton, you would imagine it will be Torres and Konsa between Matty Cash and Lucas Digne. But should he utilise the back five, Lenglet would be the perfect solution to replace the injured Carlos.
In other Aston Villa news, Nicolo Zaniolo banished his critics with an impressive performance against Ukraine