Aston Villa: Could someone like Dembele be the missing link for Villa?
It’s probably been three years since Villa fans first started calling for a midfielder who could control the middle of the park.
Following the departures of Gareth Barry, James Milner and Stilyan Petrov the team has been crying out for someone to take the midfield by the scruff of the neck. Someone with drive and power who can free up his team mates in the middle of the park and also those playing further upfield.
Moussa Dembele is good player who is looking for first team football and that is something he would be guaranteed at Villa. He needs games to join his talented Belgian team mates – like Benteke – to can nail down a place in the international squad, which is tipped to do good things in Brazil next year.
Villa’s defence has improved hugely since last season and you’ve got to give manager Paul Lambert credit for fixing the side’s biggest problem area. The side just leaked goals last season and it was a real concern that going into this campaign the team would again be on the end of some more drubbings. But although the side has not perform brilliantly in a few games at least the defence now looks capable of standing up to the best in the league.
It could be argued it was Villa’s strike force that kept us up last year when the likes of Benteke, Weimann and Agbonlahor chipped in with crucial goals against other teams fighting against the drop. Goals have been a big issue this year. Benteke started on fire with five goals in five games but has since gone five games without scoring.
Weimann has admitted recently his season has started slowly and Gabby has again been suffering with various injuries but there is still plenty of time for them to come good again.
Libor Kozak also looks a decent player and certainly tries hard enough and although it’s strange Nichlas Helenius hasn’t got a look in, the strike force has been improved and with the correct service it’s likely they will start finding the back of the net again.
When you look at Villa’s current crop of midfielders - those that are likely to play in the middle - it’s clear there is a dearth of talent. It may sound harsh but it’s the truth.
The players battling for one of the three central positions at the moment are Bacuna, El Ahmadi, Westwood, Delph, Sylla, Gardner and Tonev.
Bacuna has been played in a right wing-back role recently and has shown he has talent, so perhaps he could be redeployed in a more central role if required and if Matthew Lowton manages to get his right back slot back again.
El Ahmadi has also come on leaps and bounds since last season but although he battles hard for 90 minutes he doesn’t bring much else to the game.
Westwood was one of Lambert’s best signings last year but he hasn’t improved as much as everyone had hoped.
He’s gone very quiet in games but with the right personnel around him he could still make a big impact because the talent and confidence is there. Delph has easily been Villa’s best player this season so we just need to hope he can stay fit for a decent amount of time.
Sylla is another workhorse who tries his best but again when we need someone to take control of the game he simply isn’t capable. Gardner has suffered some horrendous injuries over the last two years so we’ll just have to wait and pray he becomes the midfielder his undoubted talent is capable of.
And then there’s Tonev, the most confident player in the whole Villa team who annoyingly will shoot from anywhere, but at least he attacks the opposition. But the majority of Villa’s midfield does lack spark.
When Spurs parted with £15 million to prize Dembele away from Fulham they obviously saw something in him – but after buying several high profile midfielders following the sale of Gareth Bale he has struggled to make an impact. Dembele alongside Delph and maybe Westwood would be an exciting prospect.
It would strengthen the backbone of the side, freeing up Delph to push forward while Westwood could stay in his preferred holding role, but hopefully with enough presence to play decent passes in for the forwards.
It’s far too early to say Dembele would be the answer but ask any Villa fan where we need to improve and they will say the midfield. The squad has been improved this season but we still need a bit more experience and a bit more quality to bring through those young players.
Signing Dembele would be a good start.
Article by James Fisher
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