Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood said he felt better following Saturday's defeat to Newcastle than after the loss to Stoke City the week before. Well, our captain didn't throw away the match in stoppage time, so I'd hope so. In all seriousness, it was a better performance, at least during the first half. Villa were controlling the game before Papiss Cissé took advantage of a failed clearance by Jores Okore to score the game's only goal. Even though Paul Lambert is gone, it still feels like this team simply cannot score. After Newcastle scored, it seemed like the life was sucked out of the team. The stats back it up too -- Villa haven't scored an away goal in the second half of a game since opening day.
Again, it felt like there weren't a ton of chances created. Aside from a couple spells of heavy pressure that really should have produced goals, the lack of a cutting edge was apparent. Scott Sinclair has done a decent job so far, and Christian Benteke looked good last time out, but there were two big problems in the team -- Gabby Agbonlahor and Tom Cleverley.
From his position at right wing, Agbonlahor offered virtually nothing. He played 73 minutes before being replaced by Andi Weimann, who was also anonymous.
Shown by FourFourTwo's Stats Zone, here are Agbonlahor's passes. While he isn't a player known for his passing, he should be able to contribute more than five successful passes. Only one of them even went forward!
Tom Cleverley was at least able to complete 76% of his passes.
It wasn't the worst we've seen from Cleverley, but I think we can conclude that he is a player that doesn't really do much of anything. While this is ok when the team is chugging along and picking up results, you need someone who can legitimately create something. That player is Carles Gil. Against Stoke, Gil had a bad match. He didn't get a chance against Newcastle, but needs to be in the lineup against West Bromwich Albion this Tuesday.
If Sherwood wants to stick with the 4-3-3, he could keep the same team from the Newcastle match except for two changes. Gil for Agbonlahor, and Carlos Sánchez for Cleverley.
Aston Villa (4-3-3):
Brad Guzan; Alan Hutton, Jores Okore, Ciaran Clark, Matt Lowton; Carlos Sánchez, Ashley Westwood, Fabian Delph, Carles Gil, Christian Benteke, Scott Sinclair.
West Brom (4-2-3-1):
Ben Foster; Craig Dawson, Gareth McAuley, Joleon Lescott, Chris Brunt; Darren Fletcher, Craig Gardner; Graham Dorrans, Stéphane Sessegnon, Callum McManaman; Saido Berahino.
What lineup do you think Sherwood should go with? Let us know in the comments!