Its been a bright start to the season for Dean Smith and his Aston Villa side. The Villans have 15 points from their first nine games and have played some excellent football. However, the Villa manager has a difficult conundrum to sort out in his Villa side. Egyptian winger Trezeguet has grown as a Premier League player but his qualities in the final third are letting his team down. Smith needs to decide who fill the front three in his Aston Villa team.
Trezeguet has been a fixture in the side this season for several reasons. While his work rate cannot be faulted, his overall play in the attacking areas has been disappointing.
Smith has other options in Anwar El Ghazi and Bertrand Traore. The busy run of festive fixtures will likely see each player get an opportunity but certainly, the right-wing spot in the Villa side is up for grabs. Its a case of working out who completes Villa’s attack with Jack Grealish and Ollie Watkins.
Dean Smith’s Aston Villa Conundrum: The Right-Wing Spot
Trezeguet Has Been the First Choice So Far This Season
Dean Smith has largely settled on a team this season with Villa making the fewest starting eleven changes. That has been evident in their performances. Nine players have started every Premier League game this season. Trezeguet is amongst that pack starting eight of Villa’s game and coming off the bench in the other match.
Smith has complete faith in the Egyptian international who played an integral role in Villa’s survival during project restart. That confidence has carried into this season and it’s clear why Smith plays him. His work rate, attitude and teamwork make him a typical Dean Smith player.
You can regularly see Trezeguet tracking back and helping the likes of Matty Cash and Matt Targett. His work rate is phenomenal getting up and down the pitch helping Villa defensively. To put that into perspective, no player has committed more fouls this season without receiving a booking than the Egyptian international. That stat currently sits at 22 fouls. This is certainly a good statistic to have for the winger who works extremely hard up and down the right-hand side. These parts of his game cannot be faulted but his work in the attacking areas isn’t as strong.
The Egyptian has just one assist this season. His effort in the final third cannot be questioned but his overall quality has flattered to deceive. It’s frustrating for both Smith and the fans because Trezeguet has shown his lethal abilities in the final third.
While VAR has decided the outcome of Villa’s last two league games, it will be lost that Villa missed great chances to pick up a result. Trezeguet fits that bracket, unfortunately. He wasted great chances against Brighton & Hove Albion and especially against West Ham United. His overall end product has to improve because zero goals and one assist is a disappointing return from an attacking player. To that into perspective, no Premier League player has had more shots without scoring this season than the Egyptian (22). That will concern the Villa manager.
He has shown glimpses of his quality and it’s clear why Smith picks him in his starting eleven. However, it’s clear the Egyptian is struggling for consistency in his game.
Smith Has Other Options to Choose From
The right-wing spot has belonged to Trezeguet this season but his play in the attacking areas will concern Smith.
Should Smith tinker with that spot in his team he has options to choose from.
Summer signing Bertrand Traore has featured sparingly so far this campaign. Injuries hampered his start at Villa but he has been regular of the bench in recent weeks. He has shown glimpses of his quality with his best work in the final third. Like Trezeguet, Traore has one assist in his seven Premier League appearances. However, he does look a threat when he has the ball and has taken several dead-ball situations for Villa.
His work in the final third has been more threatening than Trezeguet but his defensive work rate isn’t as good. Smith wants team players and people willing to help out defensively. Traore does trackback but doesn’t put in as much effort and work as the Egyptian. It’s understandable that he is the flair player Villa want to bring off the bench to make a difference.
Smith also has Dutch winger Anwar El Ghazi in his ranks. He was outstanding in Villa’s run to promotion from the Championship and played an important role last season. He scored four goals and set up four others in his 34 Premier League appearances last season. However, since Grealish was pushed into the wide areas, El Ghazi has fallen out of favour. His three appearances this season have come from the bench.
Again like Traore, El Ghazi’s best work has been in the attacking areas when has featured. But again like Traore, his defensive work flatters to deceive. He puts in the minimal effort required but doesn’t go to the lengths Trezeguet does. El Ghazi is almost the offered out ball when Villa break from the back.
It’s a difficult one for Dean Smith to pick from. The workhorse like Trezeguet or the quality attacking flair from Bertrand Traore and Anwar El Ghazi.
Festive Fixtures Offers Smith a Chance to Assess That Position
It’s likely all three will have the chance to showcase their abilities across the festive period. With Villa facing six Premier League games in 21 days, Smith will have to rotate his team where possible. Trezeguet, El Ghazi and Traore will all see minutes across the next few weeks. It offers the perfect opportunity for those players to impress Smith.
With Villa set up to counter in away matches, Trezeguet will likely start in their next game against Wolverhampton Wanderers. However, with fixtures against strugglers Burnley and West Bromwich Albion to follow, Smith could utilise Traore or El Ghazi from the start. Those games against two of the Premier League’s bottom three offers a big opportunity for one of those bench players to make the desired impression.
All three possess qualities to make them starters and with a busy period of games to come, Smith will likely give them that opportunity.
Cases Available for His Three Wingers but Ultimately It’s a Difficult Choice for Aston Villa
With Villa largely settled as a team, Smith rarely has selection problems but the right-wing role is an issue. Trezeguet has been the preferred choice but his best work isn’t the areas it should be in. El Ghazi and Traore do their better work in the attacking areas but don’t offer the protection and work rate Trezeguet brings.
It’s a real conundrum for the Villa manager and so far this season he has preferred the safe option. He will be aware El Ghazi and Traore offer the more potent threat in the final third but Smith will argue his team are scoring goals despite Trezeguet’s lack of goal involvement.
To put that into perspective only the current top five have scored more goals than Villa. Majority of those teams have also played two games more so Smith will be very satisfied.
Ultimately it’s a difficult conundrum for Smith but its certainly a good one to have. Trezeguet has been the go-to man for that position but could his recent performances in the attacking third mean a change is imminent. Its very something to consider heading into Villa’s busiest period of the season.