Villa in Four Numbers: A team of two halves

Stu Forster

A quick look at the numbers shows that Aston Villa are a much better team in the second half. Also: Ashley Westwood's fantastic day, and average heading ability.

In this week's Villa in Four Numbers, we've got a look at Villa that paints them as a very one-half team. This should surprise absolutely nobody.

3/10

The ratio of first-half to second-half goals scored by Aston Villa this season. Clearly this is an offense that gets some sort of second wind in the final 45 minutes of the match. It would stand to logic, then, that it's substitutes that are making the goals. Oddly enough, though, only one of those total goals was off of the foot of a substitute (Libor Kozak's winner against Norwich), and that one didn't even come in the second half.

It's readily apparent that Villa are, for some reason, a more potent attacking force in the second half. I'm not really sure why, either. The substitute idea falls flat, as I just showed. Villa are a counterattacking squad in theory, so perhaps they could be using the tiredness of opposing defenses to their advantage. But realistically, outside of the opening match against Arsenal, I can't think of many true counterattacking goals. There's a part of me that wonders if this is some sort of statistical aberration. The sample size is pretty small, but to see those numbers so skewed towards the second half makes me wonder.

Another oddity with this: Villa haven't scored a first-half goal in seven matches (their last was the aforementioned Kozak goal at Norwich City). Granted, that streak includes four matches in which Villa didn't score at all, but since the Kozak goal, the ratio of first- to second-half goals is 0/7.

8/6

Well, I couldn't just do that number for goals scored, now could I? Here we have the ratio of first- to second-half goals allowed. It's not just the attack that do better in the second half, the defense steps up their game as well. Two examples spring readily to mind: the West Bromwich Albion match on Monday and the Manchester City match. In both cases, the defense did nothing to stop the onslaught of goals in the first half, and then absolutely buckled themselves in for the second half.

The split isn't quite as noticeable here as it is in the attack though. This one I think is easier to posit an explanation for, though what I've got is purely conjecture. Villa have had numerous defensive injuries in the first half this year, and it may be a matter of the back line not having a chance to gel as well in the first half.

"Aston Villa are a much better team in the second half."

However you look at it, Aston Villa are a much better team in the second half. At least they are through their first 12 matches. In the second half, they've got a differential of +4, as opposed to -5 in the first half.

87

Ashley Westwood's passing accuracy for Monday's match at West Brom. It's easy to mark him as the day's hero for his superb goal, but his work as a distributor in the midfield shouldn't be overlooked. He completed 46 of 53 attempted passes, including 9 successful long balls (from 9 attempted). It was he out-pass to Leandro Bacuna that began the sequence that spread the Baggie's defense enough for Karim El Ahmadi to score Villa's first goal of the day. It's not been the best season for Westwood, so it was great to see him have a day this good.

47

The percentage of successful headed duels won by Aston Villa this year, as compared to a league-average 48.3%. I've noticed a lot of talk on twitter that Villa tend to lose a lot of aerial duels, and to my eye that's always looked correct. But realistically, Villa are about league-average here. The problem, at least for perception, is that there are quite a few absolutely dismal players here. Gabby Agbonlahor (26%), Andi Weimann (33%), and Libor Kozak (32%) are particularly egregious offenders. On the other end of the spectrum are mostly defenders: Ron Vlaar (56%), Nathan Baker (55%), Antonio Luna (67%), and Ciaran Clark (66%) all have put in good showings. Fabian Delph (57%), too, has handled himself well when it comes to headers.

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