Tuesday 24th September, Villa Park, 19:45
Well the third game in the congestive fixture list is upon us and rotation is the key. Two good wins in the Europa and Premier league has kept the momentum going in the right direction. Tromso, albeit poor, showed that the squad can be rotated and still perform well. Cardiff showed again that the team is getting better at understanding each other and due to a good goalkeeping display, would have been a more comfortable score line.
There are still a few grumblings around. Naughton has been roundly slaughtered for his display in Wales. You have got to admit that in the MOTD highlights, all Cardiff’s chances came down our left hand side. It would be fair to say that being right footed really didn’t help. There was no easy ball up the line as he had to keep cutting back to his right foot however that does not explain the backpass. Cardiff knew what they were doing and when they did attack, they targeted the weakest part of the defence.
The other is Townsend’s shooting. It is a weird one, he does shoot regularly from outside the area but so do the rest of the team. There were 15 shots outside the area against Cardiff out of the 29 taken. Yes six of these shots were from Townsend but there were also a number of good passes in there as well, one in particular springs to mind when he turns the Cardiff midfield on the touchline, takes the ball forward at pace before playing in Walker who crosses for Soldado to get a shot on target. While I agree he does shoot a little too often I think the team currently needs his direct play, he is not content to play in front of the opposition.
Would Lamela do better? Perhaps but until AVB decides it is time to unleash the Argentinian on the Premier League we will never know. The key would be the fullback he plays with as so far his only full game was with Naughton at right back. But also look at the flip side, if Townsend had scored a couple of these long range efforts we would all be pining for him to shoot – my opinion is he just needs a little more composure when shooting and with composure will come better decision making.
Villa Park is generally a tricky place to visit. Last season was tough and you would not expect them to struggle to that extent this season. Having said that, this game will not be a priority for Villa and with the current injury list, Lambert may well be writing this game off before a ball has been kicked.
Benteke will be a big loss but their squad is not as deep as others, as such they may not rotate as much as is being predicted. They have not had as big a fixture pile up which means the need to rotate is lessened.
Expected line up
AVB has suggested that perhaps the majority of the starting line up from the weekend will not start tonight given the short time frame. But with a number of injuries you would question if AVB is willing to bring in some youngsters or whether some will in fact have to play. My line up is:
Subs: Lloris, Naughton, Dawson, Eriksen, Dembele, Townsend, Soldado
So there you have it, I don’t think any of the development squad will be involved, had it been league one opposition then it may be a different story. I think AVB wants to keep the wins coming and therefore will use the remainder of the squad. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Lloris in goal given he played against Tromso but you have got to think Friedel will want to play against his old employers.
Naughton has played two 90 minute shifts but who comes in to give Walker a rest? So I have gone with Walker, AVB has had chances to play younger members of the development squad in previous games and has chosen not to so I do not think it will change now. Went with Paulinho in the middle as he didn’t start against Tromso but would AVB want to disrupt the partnership he is forming with Dembele? He has to rest one of them with the derby game coming up at the weekend and given Dembele has started the previous two fixtures I went with him.
I have assumed that Defoe and Kaboul have only slight knocks and were kept away from the Cardiff game with this game in mind. Clearly if they do not make it then up front will be pretty simple, Kane will move forward, Holtby will move to the centre and Townsend will come in (he didn’t play against Tromso). However if Kaboul is still out then it is a little more tricky, who comes in out of Dawson and Vertonghen? I would go with Jan, controversial but Dawson has played a hell of a lot of football so far this season.
There may even be a surprise on the bench given Adebayors recent positive tweets…
I actually do not think Lambert will rotate as heavily as suggested and it will be interesting to see how much rotation we do given the short space of time between games. I think that is the key factor, not the game coming up at the weekend! I am going for, wait for it, 1-0 Spurs with Lamela opening his account… Whatever happens, we really want to avoid extra time!
So what do you think? Wholesale changes and development squad game time? What is your line up and predicted score?
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