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Sherwood to blame - Leicester 3 - 2 Aston Villa Tactics Talk

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Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Tactical set-ups:

Villa v Leicester vs Away team - Football tactics and formations

Both sides set up in a 4-2-3-1 - the major surprises being Joleon Lescott coming in for Ciaran Clark, and the choice to play Gabby Abgonlahor as the lone striker.

Very rarely can I put in these Tactical Talks to a single tactical decision making the decisive impact, so I prefer to make multiple points about both halves. However in this case I think it is justified to simply focus on the one moment in the game which defined the entire match.

1-65 minutes  - Gil and Grealish run the show

The worry of fielding Carles Gil and Jack Grealish together in a 4-2-3-1 was that while it guaranteed creativity, it perhaps sacrificed width and finishing ability as Gabby Abgonlahor and Scott Sinclair would be forced to run wide rather than be in the box while the two playmakers floated centrally.

Initially that worry seemed valid. Both Gil and Grealish were linking well, especially the Spaniard who put in two excellent through-balls for Gabby, one of which should have resulted in a goal but the Gabby's pass came to Sinclair a second too late. However some poor deliveries from out wide and a couple of weak shots, especially from Grealish, raised doubts about if there was a surfeit of creativity and lack of finishing instinct. Meanwhile Leicester were threatening via the workrate of James Vardy and Okazaki and the trickery of Riyadh Mahrez.

Then Grealish and Gil put all the worries to bed with a pair of stunning finishes from distance, the first from a corner which Micah Richards lunged at and forced a poor clearance and the second from good work by Gabby on the break down the left. Villa were controlling possession, looking dangerous on the counter and muffling the Leicester attack effectively.

2-0 up with less than half an hour to go, Villa were set to cruise to a triumphant win.

65 min - Sherwood takes Gil off and throws away the game

On 66 minutes, just after scoring his wonderful goal, Sherwood took off Carles Gil for Jordan Ayew. Perhaps he was trying to protect the comparatively lightweight playmaker but taking off the man who had been the effective link between defensive and attack and could have controlled the match to its end and replacing him with a striker was odd.

If the personnel choice was strange, the true disaster was Sherwood's change of shape that accompanied it. A deep 4-5-1 with Gabby and Sinclair dropping to the flanks and Ayew playing as a lone striker would have at least preserved a semblance of the team´s structure and flooded the midfield and flanks against Leicester's all-out attack. Instead he appeared to signal a 4-3-3 with Sinclair, Gabby and Ayew changing positions up top.

The direct result of Sherwood's change was 3 Leicester goals in 18 minutes and a win thrown away into a gutting loss.

There is definitely a place for a mobile three-man strike force staying high. Defending a 2-0 lead against a side throwing their full-backs forward at every opportunity was not it. The incoherence of the approach was shown up even more when Rudy Gestede came on for Gabby, ruining any idea of a speedy counter-attacking force. Suddenly Sanchez, Westwood and Grealish and the full-backs were utterly exposed to Leicester's midfielders and full-backs rampaging forwards.

In particular Sanchez suffered from his apparently chronic inability to concentrate for a whole match, which was all the more disappointing considering his excellent first-half, while Leandro Bacuna showed again that he simply cannot carry out his defensive duties as a right-back.

First Bacuna was lucky not to give away a penalty when he bundled over Vardy in the box but he gave away a corner which Richie De Laet was quickest to react and flick in. Then Mahrez rampaged past Sanchez in the middle and got the ball out left to Drinkwater who drove the ball across the box for Vardy to stab home between Lescott and Richards. Finally a petrified Villa midfield backed off Mahrez, giving him time to clip a ball in towards Nathan Dyer who bravely managed to head home before being clattered by Brad Guzan who had utterly misjudged the ball.

Three goals in 18 minutes, all a product of the utter disarray into which Sherwood threw his side while winning 2-0.

Conclusions - Sherwood is tactically incompetent

There's a couple of minor ones here. Leandro Bacuna needs to be dropped for Alan Hutton as he simply cannot defend. There's an argument to be made that Brad Guzan also deserves time on the bench, though the departure of Shay Given may mean he effectively has no real competition. Sanchez should be automatically taken off at 60 minutes. Gil and Grealish can play together.

But these are all just distractions from the larger point which is that in three matches out of the opening five, Tim Sherwood has either failed to make substitutions or made substitutions which have lost points. Crystal Palace was a loss from a draw, Sunderland a draw from a win and now Leicester saw a win thrown away for a loss.

Sherwood can say he has "never felt so bad" and blame his players for throwing away the match, but this was a direct result of his baffling decision to change the formation of the side which threw the team into disarray while they were 2-0 up - a decision which can only be called incompetent.