Last time out, Aston Villa were able to stop their four game slide by keeping a clean sheet at home against Southampton and earn a draw. The defense was improved from what we had seen for basically the past month, but the absence of Christian Benteke is still being felt by the whole team, who have managed just one goal in the last three matches. For that reason, Paul Lambert needs to change up his strike force.
As Robert and I talked about on yesterday's Holtecast, Marc Albrighton has really been the most positive attacking influence available for the Villans as of late. Grant Holt has been ineffective, but was really the best choice available based on the bench last week. Gabby Agbonlahor and Andi Weimann are in the middle of what seems like eternal dry spells when it comes to finding the back of the net. We did get to see Callum Robinson, albeit for only five minutes. Nicklas Helenius apparently is healthy, which is an improvement for us who thought he was dead. I hope to Helenius this weekend, but he will most likely begin the match on the bench if he even makes the trip to Wales. If I were Paul Lambert, I'd go with a lone striker up front (Helenius) and a 4-2-3-1 formation.
The midfield is essentially the same as what we've seen recently, although I have a defensive midfield pairing of Fabian Delph and Ashley Westwood, with Leandro Bacuna at center attacking midfield. Albrighton would be wide right and Agbonlahor wide left. Karim El Ahmadi is the odd man out, but would be the first midfield sub off the bench. The reason you cannot afford to field two out-and-out strikers against Swansea City is because they are a team that enjoys keeping possession. Villa are never going to win the possession battle, but you can't just go out there and expect to create more than a few chances when you only possess the ball for a third of the game. You don't need to out pass Swansea, but you need to make it difficult for them to play their game by hassling and pressing them at the right times. With Bacuna higher up the pitch, he will bring some energy to the attacking half of the pitch by pressing Jonjo Shelvey and Leon Britton, therefore not allowing them to pass the ball up the pitch with ease.
Only one change will be made on the defensive end, with Matt Lowton replacing the aforementioned Bacuna who is deployed in the midfield. Ryan Bertrand stays at left back, Nathan Baker and Ron Vlaar at center back, and Lowton on the right. Brad Guzan in the net, of course. Joe Bennett looks set to miss through injury, so we should actually see Antonio Luna on the bench, someone who we haven't even thought about for a while.
Subs from: Steer, Luna, Robinson, Tonev, El Ahmadi, Weimann, Clark.
Should Lambert choose a different shape or personnel than this? Let us know in the comments!