Those who talk football with me know I love watching modern fullbacks play. Ahmed Elmohamady is no exception - and I was a huge fan of this player when he was at Hull — and that positive feeling was only boosted by his assist in the playoff final against Derby County. Dean Smith knows exactly what he will get from the 31-year-old Egyptian captain — solid (if unremarkable) defense and crosses early into the box and often from the right. A manager can work a flank attack out of that.
In the past few years Alan Hutton as been Elmo’s biggest competitor for the right back slot — now it is 24-year-old French fullback Frederic Guilbert. I’d expect the two to share time — especially in the early season. It will also depend who is on the right wing. Guilbert and Jota have looked great together in preseason (and yes it is preseason so it may not matter) — Elmo and new winger Trezeguet play together internationally and have a good understanding. Watch for Smith to start the pairs together depending on what he wants from the tactics and chemistry.
If injuries hit Trezeguet and Jota — Elmo likely slots in as the third choice on the right wing. If he plays on the right — Guilbert will be allowed even more freedom to overlap and push ahead.
Elmo has been one of the quiet heroes of the team — and he has a key role to play early in Villa’s first season back in the Premier League — especially early on in the season while Guilbert settles in.