After a season of inconsistency and transition, Villa fans can finally look to the new season with promises of improvement from the clubs hierarchy.
The transfer window opens on the 10th of June but Villa are not messing around when it comes to recruitment. Philippe Coutinho was first through the door after some masterful negotiations from Lange and Purslow. Kamara and Diego Carlos shortly followed. This club means business this summer.
I want to take a look ahead to how these signings fit in and how Villa will be a completely different beast in the new season.
I think Gerrard will look to revert to his favoured 4-3-3 formation. The signings we have already made certainly allow us to do this.
Starting from the back, Carlos is an aggressive, front foot defender. He loves to get stuck in (sometimes too much) and assert himself onto opponents. Making vital blocks, tackles and winning aerial duels Carlos will add an assertiveness to what can sometimes be a ‘passive‘ team.
Kamara is an already elite defensive midfielder, winning 4.75 tackles and interceptions per game in the last year, he is not afraid to get stuck in. He will prove to be the anchor Villa have desperately needed since our return to the Premier League. Despite not being the most physically imposing player, Kamara is not a player to shy out of a 50/50…
As Villa fans, we all already know what Coutinho will bring to the team. Flair, flamboyance and fun. The signings of Carlos and Kamara should allow Coutinho to be more free and receive the ball higher up the pitch rather than having to drop deep.
In the final games of the season we saw Villa building up using a back three. Luiz dropped between the two centre backs to allow for better ball circulation and so that Cash and Digne could play higher up and offer much needed width due to our narrow front three.
Kamara excels when being able to drop between centre backs and being allowed to dictate play and cycle possession. This set up will afford Digne and Cash the freedom to bomb upfield and offer width and a crossing option.
When the centre backs split and the fullbacks push high this creates numerous passing triangles for us to exploit. These triangles mare what coaches like Guardiola use religiously to beat the press and maintain high amounts of possession.
Carlos is a superb ball playing centre back. He completes on average 58.45 passes per match with an accuracy of 88.6%. But, I think Carlos’s importance to the team will be his elite ability to switch the ball from one side to another (Think Van Dijk hitting switches to Alexander-Arnold). Carlos completes 3.82 switches per match, which puts him in the top 1% of centre backs across Europe’s ‘big 5 leagues. This ability to switch the play will allow Villa to exploit spaces on the flanks when Cash and Digne push on whilst still affording us defensive security thanks to Kamara dropping into the defence.
This added defensive solidity should afford Buendia and Coutinho the freedom to do what they do best, create chances and rotate allowing for neat interplay and giving us an element of unpredictability.
In defence Gerrard’s team will be able to drop into the usual 4-5-1 shape. But with the added physicality of Carlos and Kamara’s adeptness at pressuring opponents the new season should see us play and press far higher up the pitch.
Villa already look a stronger outfit and the transfer window hasn’t even opened yet.
A full preseason under Gerrard, some more smart signings and our transition to the possession football Gerrard so desperately wants is already looking more and more likely.
The pressure will be on for the boys in claret and blue. We have made superb signings, players that were courted by Europe’s elite. Surely we should be expecting qualification for one of the three European competitions next season. But do you want to bet against us?