What comes next when we start all over again?
The focus of the football world will shift back to club play, as an exciting World Cup has wrapped up and players head back home. It’s going to be an interesting dynamic, since the biggest tournament in world football interrupted the heart of many seasons across the world. It might take certain clubs longer than others to adjust or regain their rhythm.
Aston Villa sits pretty much in the middle of the Premier League standings. They have a chance to make a run into the stronger part of the top half or be chased down and dragged to the bottom. The good thing is that they control their own destiny and have a great opportunity to finish the season strong.
Here are three keys to success for Aston Villa during the second half of the season that will keep fans excited to head to Villa Park in the next several months.
Many gambling enthusiasts have gone to their trusted sportsbook in the last couple of months to let their wallets make their World Cup picks for them. Coming into the tournament, Argentina was viewed as a favorite to win it all, and they rewarded those who had faith in them by making an incredibly deep run. Supporters of Argentina largely thought that they would experience success thanks to the brilliant play of Lionel Messi, but they received contributions from all areas.
After a shaky defensive start in their first match, Argentina tightened up their back line, and also received much better play from goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. The Aston Villa netminder was in goal for his country’s playoff run and finished the group stage strong with two clean sheets. Martinez was also involved in a pressure cooker of a game against the Netherlands, which Argentina ended up winning in penalty kicks.
In addition to his stellar play on the biggest stage, Martinez also provided exceptional leadership during the highest pressure moments of his country’s run. With this type of momentum under his wings, Martinez has a chance to hit the ground running when he returns to Aston Villa and may have picked up a few motivational tactics along the way as well.
Stringing Offense Together
Many clubs with limited transfer or signing budgets often run into this problem. It’s hard to solve offensive troubles by bringing in one or two blue chip players who can make strong runs into the box multiple times a game. As a result, these clubs need to focus on developing talent and come up with creative ways to manufacture scoring chances at the net.
Aston Villa falls into this category, as they don’t have a lead striker who can change the game in an instant. Danny Ings is their leading scorer so far this season, and he is well behind some of the individual goal scoring leaders in the Premier League. No one is comparing him to the Harry Kane’s or Erling Haaland’s of the world, but it is generally hard to remain in contention without a player like that.
As a result, Aston Villa will need to be opportunistic on the counterattack, while also falling back and playing good defense anchored by their hot goalie. When they do decide to play offensive minded football, they’re the type of team that will need to string multiple passes together to create a chance. With this in mind, their distributions to one another should be relatively conservative, as any discontinuation of their passes will lead to efforts that are all for naught.
Don’t Cave into Adversity
It has been a long time since Aston Villa has been in the thick of the Premier League title race. It’s not a sentiment that diehard fans of the team want to acknowledge, but it’s a fact. The last time the club finished in the top five was in the 2018-2019 season.
That wasn’t necessarily that long ago, but the 2017-2019 period was the team’s high-water mark in the last decade or so. They’ve finished 11th or lower in nine out of the last 11 seasons and achieved their stellar play while in the second tier. This has cast a shadow of doubt and uncertainty amongst the franchise, which is something that manager Unai Emery is looking to change in his first season.
That is easier said than done, but if a new winning culture is to be created, it must start somewhere. Players on struggling clubs tend to wonder what will go wrong next, rather than trying to ponder ways to ensure the victory is secured for their side. The coaching staff and the players will need to overcome difficult moments through the second half of the season if they want to end the campaign on a positive note.