Villa Better In Defence This Season Or Last?
Which back line is better?
Last season our first choice defensive unit was Mellberg RB, Bouma LB, Laursen and Davies in the middle with Carson between the sticks.
Personally I think that was a strong defensive line up let down by a poor and uncommanding keeper whose actual shop stopping was at best, less than average.
This season we are likely to have Young RB, Shorey LB, Laursen and Davies in the middle with Friedel in goal. Is it any better? Well imho opinion, yes and no.
Defensively I think it is weaker down the flanks. Shorey and Young are not the quickest but both have the ability to get forward better than Olof and Freddy. Shorey especially is a corner kick specialist and will undoubtedly provide many assists. Laursen and Davies, if they remain injury free have the potential to be one of the best centre back pairings in the league. Not as good defensively as say Ferdinand and Vidic but much more of a threat in the opponents box.
What will make the biggest difference is having a keeper who is not only commanding but also an excellent shop stopper. If Friedel remains injury free, he will be the one who will make the difference. I think teams will have more joy down the flanks against Young and Shorey than against Olof and Freddy, but this will be more than compensated for by having three, big strong men commanding the centre and in goal.
If I was a betting man, I would put money on our goals against column coming down by about 15 to 20 compared to last season. It will be hard to score as many but overall we will be better off.
What will be an influence will be games. Rangers played 19 European matches in getting to the final last year. We still need a right midfielder SWP or Milner please), cover for Carew (with battering he takes for the team, there is no chance of getting 50+ games from him) and an extra centre half as a bare minimum. Now is the time to invest in two young full backs who are happy to learn their trade as part of the squad, but who will be busting a gut to prove themselves when Shorey or Young are injured or suspended.
This is where a good scouting network would have done the job.