Youri Tielemans may have finally earned first Premier League start with impressive Aston Villa cameo
Few would have expected Aston Villa to leave the City Ground empty-handed, but Unai Emery’s side were far from their best against Nottingham Forest.
Villa tasted defeat for the first time in six Premier League matches as they were well beaten by Steve Cooper’s side who ran out 2-0 winners on Sunday (5 November) to leave the travelling fans disappointed for the first time in months.
While several players failed to impress against Forest, Youri Tielemans had a bright cameo from the bench as the Belgian international replaced Matty Cash in the second period as Emery aimed to tinker with his tactical shape.
It has been a far from straightforward start to life at Villa Park for the 26-year-old, who is yet to start a Premier League match, but his display on Sunday may well have put him back in contention for a starting spot in the upcoming fixtures.
Tielemans barely put a foot wrong in the 31 minutes he was on the pitch, completing 95 per cent of 41 attempted passes in the game as he repeatedly looked to drive Emery’s side up the field against Forest’s low block [Fotmob].
11 of those efforts were into the final third, with the Belgian completing one of his two long passes as he instead opted to look for teammates close to him, rather than looking for big switches of play across the field.
During his time with Leicester City, the midfielder became renowned for his long dribbles up the field and similar was true for Aston Villa on Sunday as Tielemans completed 100 per cent of his attempted dribbles at The City Ground.
Defensively, the 26-year-old made an impressive five ball recoveries and won his only aerial duel during his cameo, however, he would have hoped to be more successful when battling on the ground as he only won two of his five ground duels.
Most of Tielemans’ minutes this season have come in the Europa Conference League and he has proven that at that level he can be an incredibly influential figure in the middle of the park. Compared to other midfielders in the Conference League, the Belgian places in the 95th percentile for progressive passes per 90 minutes [Fbref].
Few players move the ball around the field as often as the Villa midfielder who has attempted more passes than 90 per cent of midfielders in the European competition and he is also completing a shot-creating action an average of 3.67 times a game.
Assuming that Tielemans plays during Villa’s Europa Conference League clash with AZ Alkmaar and goes about his business well again, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to assume that the Belgian may have forced his way into Emery’s starting XI against Fulham with his bright cameo against Forest.
In other Aston Villa news, Pau Torres has been calling for Ezri Konsa to be called up to the England squad in November