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Abandonment of points at Villa Park


Any club wants to make their home ground a fortress, something to intimidate visiting opposition, but Villa haven't made Villa Park the stronghold most fans would of liked it to be. Villa last night kept a clean sheet against Rotherham in the Capital One Cup (3-0) at home, but prior to that the last clean sheet was on the 8th December, a staggering 30 games (in all competitions home and away) since a 0-0 draw with Stoke at Villa Park.

But keeping a clean sheet hasn't been Villa's only problem, last season more points were gained away from home than at Villa Park, 21 compared to 20; could of easily been more than 21 though. Villa won five games at home last season, equal to what they won away and several problems can atone for why fans have failed to see Villa collect more points at home and the added rarity of seeing a clean sheet.

Several reasons could be behind why Villa's home form has been in the spotlight, most notably the fact Villa were without an experienced centre half for a long spell of last season. Captain and Dutch international Ron Vlaar was ruled out for seven weeks with a calf injury, leaving Paul Lambert with only two youngsters (Ciaran Clark and Nathan Baker) and a stand-in natural central midfielder in Chris Herd fit to play at the centre of defence.

During three games over Xmas (Chelsea, Spurs and embarrassingly Wigan) Villa conceded 15 goals without reply and the vacant figure of Vlaar was starting to show.
Secondly over a third of Lambert's starting eleven last season hadn't played in the Premier League previous to the start of last season. Matthew Lowton Ashley Westwood Yacouba Sylla and Vlaar hadn't played one minute of Premier League football combined, plus only one (Vlaar) was over the age of 23 at the start of last season.

The experimentation Paul Lambert was compiling regarding the suited formation for Villa was resemblance of something a mad scientist would be proud of.
A variety of formations were explored including the nightmare playing two wing-backs in a 3-5-2 formation, 4-4-2 that lasted one game and the formation that finally meant Villa are now causing some of the bigger teams in the Premier League problems; Arsenal being the most notable.

Lastly the advantage, well not in Villa's case, of playing in front of their home fans. Playing away seemed to suit Villa more, shown by more points being gained away, than at home.

The possible reasoning for that is fans getting on player's backs when things aren't going right, playing away from home means the vastly reduced number of fan's criticisms drowned out by the home teams fan's support.

The opening three games of the season against Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool showed that Villa have come on leaps and bounds since the 8-0 drumming at Stamford Bridge in December last year. Arsenal were dominated on their own patch, Kevin 'not our friend ' Friend denied any deserved points at Stamford Bridge and if Paul Lambert hadn't foolishly abandoned the 4-3-3 formation to play a very narrow 4-4-2 (played in the first two games) against Liverpool in the opening 35 minutes, meaning the central midfield pairing of Fabian Delph and Westwood were bossed by Liverpool we would of seen more than the three points gained so far.

Not all negative news though, from the three corresponding fixtures last season Villa gained 0 points and had a goal difference of -10.

So with the international week back and Villa not having a home game for just over two weeks, Newcastle United (hopefully without Cabaye) will be the next visitors to Villa Park on 14th September, 3pm k.o.




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The Journalist

Writer: Chris Heath  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday August 29 2013

Time: 4:00AM

Your Comments

Tbf it is just 1 extra point away from home, I know you are expected to be worse away from home and for that reason it gives it more weight, but still the home record and away record in terms of points at least is almost symmetrical. The fact is we were poor everywhere last year and especially to big boys and then we managed to pull it out of the bag to survive a relegation battle at the business end of the season which frankly a club of our statue should never really be involved in. Still we can see the improvements and we realize last year may well have been us taking 1 step back to make 2 steps forward, so onwards and upwards and bring on the geordies UTV!!
macca1087
"Abandonment of points" No, not really, just a side full of new players who didn't know each other, that is over, they know each other now, they are getting better all the time, as for the "fans getting on player's backs when things aren't going right, playing away from home means the vastly reduced number of fan's criticisms drowned out by the home teams fan's support." Have you ever been to an away match? The away support, support all the way through, always have, nothing to do with getting on players backs, don't you think it may just have more to do with playing counter attacking football, it works away from home, but when we are home we are supposed to be the ones breaking down teams and we just haven't had that playmaker.
Jamtomorrow
Bang On Jam
Mat777
I think a team are "expected"" to boss a match at home. Unfortunately, we are not equipped to do that....still. As Jam says and we all know, we STILL haven't got a quality playmaker.
Pride of Lions
New season, new slate. UTV
astonmilan
Away from home we play fast paced counter attacking football which often catches the home side out. At Villa Park we are expected to dominate but as pointed out do not have the right ammuntion in midfield and in fact often end up getting caught out ourselves against better sides.My biggest fear is we are over reliant on Benteke.
Merlin128777
We are over reliant on Benteke and Gabby. The home problem is not being able to break sides down (viz last 20 mins on Saturday) and this has existed for some time. Partly lack of attacking options on the bench, and partly the missing mythical "No. 10/attacking midfielder". FB is showing signs of becoming that player but its early doors and we could still do with another one for "cover".
malacaxeta
"The possible reasoning for that is fans getting on player's backs when things aren't going right, playing away from home means the vastly reduced number of fan's criticisms drowned out by the home teams fan's support". There you go again having a pop at home fans, have you ever thought the problem is the way the manager is setting up at home games?
MrWashyWashy
To answer your question Jamtomorrow I have been to an away game, I went to Arsenal on the opening day of the season and a lot of games previous to that. O.k so how you would explain the lack of points at VP over the last two seasons??
Helenius25
I think the biggest factor in why we struggle at home is the same as when Martin O'Neill was in charge. We're deadly on the counter attack, with the front three all being quick, hard working, and able to carry the ball. However, at home teams will tend to sit back a bit more and force us to try to break them down. Whilst we have some very good players, they don't yet have the ability to break down a defence with 9 people between 20 and 30 yards in front of the goal. We'll always get goals from decent full back crosses on to Benteke's head, a la Young to Carew, but until we get a player who can work some magic we'll always struggle in that regard. Kaka on loan, anyone?
Chris Smith
 

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