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Aston Villa vs West Brom: Tactical Preview

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Looking at the success Paul Lambert had tactically last time out against Liverpool, what will he conjure up this time?

Michael Regan

Coming off a great first half that earned Aston Villa a draw away at Anfield last time out, one might think that manager Paul Lambert shouldn't change his tactics. "Never change a winning team," is a classic Alf Ramsey quote. However, Liverpool are a much different team than West Brom, and Aston Villa playing at home compared to away differs like night and day. That being said, during the last match, nearly everything went to plan. Besides giving up a goal on the stroke of halftime and Gabriel Agbonlahor, debatably Villa's best player of the match got forced off with an injury. Oh and there's the Suárez penalty incident. But otherwise, the traveling side really took the game to their opponents. Villa dominated the first half, and still looked dangerous in the second.

At Villa Park under the lights on Wednesday, Lambert's side will be expected to dictate the tempo of the match. This hasn't been too effective of a plan so far this season at home. Liverpool are a team who takes the match to their opponents. West Brom have a new manager who is still trying to find his best eleven. And while I have selected the same Villa side as the team that drew Liverpool, save for Lowton in for Bacuna at right back, the tactics should not be the same. West Brom generally line up in a 4-4-2 formation. Pepe Mel may change this, as he is still experimenting with his team. If he goes 4-4-2, there may be some areas that Villa could exploit. But this means that Villa's front 3 have to terrorize the defenders and allow the midfield trio of Delph, El Ahmadi and Westwood to control the game. The team pressing as a unit worked much better last time out. That will need to continue. Also, playing team defense is a welcome change. This is evident not only on set pieces, but at other areas of the pitch as well. Benteke winning 13 aerial duels compared to the 12 by Liverpool's whole team was also nice.

If Villa can score an early goal (first 20 minutes) they really have the opportunity to get the crowd into the match. The last four matches have all ended in draws. West Brom's most recent series win was in October 2011, while you have to go a bit farther back for Aston Villa's, which was in December of 2010. It will be a close game, but I think Villa end up winning it 3-1.

Here is the squad that I would pick if I were Paul Lambert:

football formations

Note: this depends on if Gabby Agbonlahor will be fit or not. At the time of writing he had not trained since the Liverpool match, and his status for Wednesday is uncertain.

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