Despite an inconsistent run of form throughout 2021, it’s been a season of progress at Aston Villa. Villa are a completely different side from the one which narrowly escaped relegation last season. The bedrock of their vastly improved season has been their rock-solid defence. Villa’s back four have kept 14 clean sheets this season and they are closing in on their record of 15 in a season. They have been largely settled at the back but the one constant figure has been Matt Targett. The Targett Aston Villa contract is close to being extended.
While Matty Cash, Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa have missed a couple of games with injuries, Targett has been a regular figure who has enjoyed a terrific season. His performances have developed so much that he is in the thinking of England manager Gareth Southgate.
Villa have been tying down their key players this season and, according to The Athletic’s Gregg Evans, Targett is next. Targett who recently made his 100th Premier League appearance is in talks with the club over a new deal. Villa want him to follow the likes of Jack Grealish, John McGinn and Tyrone Mings in committing their long term future to the club.
Matt Targett Aston Villa Contract Set for Renewal
Makes up a Quarter of Villa’s Record-Breaking Defence
The talented full-back has been a constant in the side since joining from Southampton in 2019. His Villa career was shaky, to begin with, but this season, he has come on leaps and bounds with a string of consistent, dominant performances at left-back.
Defensively, he has improved immensely. He rarely gets dribbled past and, when he does, his recovery ability is outstanding. His tenacious, no-nonsense style of defending has won admirers and plaudits from teammates as well as Villa manager Dean Smith.
Targett is also integral in Villa’s attacking play. A new Aston Villa contract would be a deserved one. He regularly flies down the Villa left ready to put crosses into the box and take set pieces if needed. Targett also has an excellent relationship with Villa’s talisman Jack Grealish.
They share the left-hand side of the Villa team and their link-up play and understanding is excellent. They regularly play intricate one-twos and set each other up. Of course, we haven’t seen this recently with Grealish missing Villa’s last eight Premier League matches through injury.
Villa’s defence has been excellent this season with only Manchester City and Chelsea conceding fewer goals. Targett has played his part in a record-equalling defence that has kept eight Premier League clean sheets away from home. They could yet break that record and Villa’s total for clean sheets in a Premier League season. Villa currently have 14 this season, their record is 15.
Matt Targett has certainly played his part and Aston Villa are hoping he follows in the footsteps of Ezri Konsa who committed his long term future to the club with a new contract ahead of Villa’s victory against Fulham.
Performances Have Put Targett on Gareth Southgate’s Radar
Unsurprisingly, the impressive performances of Villa’s defence this season has them in Gareth Southgate’s thinking. Tyrone Mings has already broken through into the England squad but his Villa compatriots Konsa, Cash and Targett are all on the radar.
Targett faces stiff competition with Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell currently ahead of him but his continuous, consistent performances mean he is pushing hard for a spot in the England squad. Certainly, Targett has emerged into England thinking having vastly improved this season. He can offer England plenty should Southgate call him up.
Southgate has been a regular watcher of Villa matches this season and certainly, with eight games left for Dean Smith’s team, Southgate will be keeping an eye on the English talents at Villa Park.
Targett Deserves New Aston Villa Contract
It’s been a fantastic season on a personal level for the likeable full-back. He’s been a fixture in the side, starting every league game and only missing 16 minutes of action after an injury against Manchester City in January.
Defensively is where the major improvements to his game have been made. Targett made 52 tackles last season in his 28 appearances. That is up to 66 this season with eight games remaining. Targett’s recoveries, 50-50 victories and duels won are up too while the duels he has lost have decreased. He lost 121 duels in his 28 matches last season but has only lost 89 in his 30 this season.
Targett has also not made an error which has led to a goal and clean sheets are up from last season. Villa kept just four when Targett played last season but that is up to 14 this season. In his 101 Premier League appearances, he has averaged a clean sheet every four games.
Should Matt Targett stay fit, his tackle success, interceptions and clearances are also likely to increase in what’s been an excellent season for him and Villa defensively.
Targett’s Importance Cannot Be Questioned
Dean Smith knew Villa’s defence had to improve at the end of last season. Crucially for him, it did due to his tweak in style which has made Villa more compact and difficult to score against.
Unsurprisingly, this has affected Targett’s attacking numbers despite his regularly runs forward. Targett has just one assist this season compared to the two he got during 2019/20. As well as assists being down, his big chances created is also down from eight to three.
He is putting more crosses into the area but his crossing accuracy is down 50% from 27% to 14%. However, one thing that has majorly improved is his long ball accuracy. Villa defenders are asked to pump the ball into wide areas and Targett is no stranger to this.
Targett has made 93 accurate long balls compared to 49 last season. These long cross-field passes have been key to Villa finding space and starting attacks. His overall passing numbers are up with Dean Smith asking his team to play through the lines and show their versatility going forward.
Despite the dip in numbers, Targett remains a key cog to the Villa machine going forward. Targett has also proven he can cause problems from set-pieces. With lacking a quality set-piece taker since Conor Hourihane’s move to Swansea City, several players have taken Villa’s dead-ball situations.
Targett is one of those and has demonstrated his qualities, especially from the left. His deliveries have been accurate and caused uncertainty for Villa’s opponents. Certainly, something he can further improve as his career progresses.
The full-back himself would admit he would like more goals and assists to his game but he is doing the primary objectives asked of him week in, week out.
It’s clear to see why Villa are eager to tie down their key men. Targett has been an important player in Villa’s progress under Dean Smith this season. He is a consistent, hard-working player who goes under the radar but appears to be winning plenty of admirers.
Should a new deal be agreed, it will be no more than he deserves for a terrific season. He is a key asset and a favourite with the fans, his teammates and the management staff. His development this season has been outstanding and at 25, his best years are ahead. Villa hope that he will be in their famous claret and blue strip.
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