When Aston Villa emerged from the tunnel at halftime, Matthew Lowton had replaced Leandro Bacuna at right back, much to the astonishment of almost everyone watching. I actually really like what Lowton brings to the team, and would have loved to have seen both him and Bacuna in Paul Lambert's starting XI. But down by a goal, with a desperate need to press and attack, the substitution made almost no sense whatsoever.
Well, it turns out that Bacuna was feeling ill at the half and couldn't continue for the rest of the match. There was no tactical thinking behind the switch, merely the health of a player. In that light, the substitution makes perfect sense.
Furthermore, while there were plenty of problems with Villa today, Lambert can't be criticized for being too passive. His first non-illness sub was Callum Robinson on for the largely ineffective Andi Weimann, followed a bit later by Grant Holt for Karim El Ahmadi, pushing Villa from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-4 formation. Lambert certainly did try to claw back into the match, but his plan was sabotaged by the ineffectiveness of the strikers and the absolutely woefulness of the defense.
Lambert has put himself into the position where we all could have believed that he subbed Bacuna for Lowton for tactical purposes, so it's refreshing to hear that he's not that daft when it comes to the bench.
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