What is Villa's Best 11?

The January transfer window is now nothing but a distant object in the rearview mirror, meaning Aston Villa's squad is now locked in for the rest of the season. There have been major incomings as well a fair few notable outgoings, and with big names such as Leon Bailey due back from injury sooner rather than later and Bertrand Traore due back from the African Cup of Nations, it begs the question; with a fully fit and available squad for Steven Gerrard to choose from, what is Villa's best 11?


This will of course be based on Gerrard's preferable 4-3-3 formation using two narrow number 10's rather than wingers.



Note: If you just want to see my first 11 without reading my reasons why then just skip down to the bottom for the line-up graphic.


GK - Emi Martinez

Not exactly a tough choice this one is it? Emi Martinez is without a doubt one of the top keepers on the planet and the mighty Villa have just tied the Argentine stopper down to a brand new contract. This position should belong to Martinez for years to come and I wouldn't even rule out him holding it down with the captain's armband one day.


LB - Lucas Digne

With Matt Targett exiting the club on loan to join up with newly minted Newcastle, there's no real debate as to who Villa's best left back is. While playing those narrow number 10's Gerrard relies on his full backs to have a decent amount of attacking flair and Digne ticks that box. Which leads us nicely onto..


RB - Matty Cash

Once again Cash fits perfectly into this system and doesn't have any major competition, especially with Kaine Kesler-Hayden heading back out on loan and Calum Chambers not really having the same attacking threat as Cash.



CB Pairing - Ezri Konsa & Tyrone Mings

In general Villa's back four tends to pick itself if everybody is fit. I'd hope to see Chambers and Hause push Konsa and Mings but if we're being realistic, these two aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Konsa remains arguably the most underrated centre back in the league while Mings' leadership in that defence is undeniable and Villa look a much worse team without him in there.


CDM - Marvelous Nakamba

The much talked about central defensive midfield role is the first real debatable position in this team. The fact that it's so difficult to pick between Nakamba and Douglas Luiz may speak to the need to bring in somebody more dominant to compete with Nakamba and free up Luiz further up the pitch. Nakamba just about gets the nod for me given his incredible form before the injury and the fact he's more of a natural DM than Luiz is in the first place. Let's hope it's not too long before we see Nakamba back in that first team!



CM Pairing - John McGinn & Jacob Ramsey

Picking the next two midfield players to play just in front of the CDM was almost just as difficult. There's a great argument to be made that a freed up Douglas Luiz alongside the energetic John McGinn might be the better option here. However there's absolutely no denying the season Jacob Ramsey is having at Villa and for that reason alone he deserves a place in this starting line up. Morgan Sanson will of course be wanting to push for a place in this midfield but right now there's no way McGinn and Ramsey should be letting go of their shirts.


Left Sided CAM - Philippe Coutinho

Let's be honest, you don't bring in a player like Coutinho to sit on the bench and fill in the numbers. Gerrard has brought his ex-teammate to Villa Park in order for the little magician to try and rediscover his Liverpool days form and help Villa push for Europe. Having said that, it's only been half a year since the Villa board splashed over £30 million on Leon Bailey who will be eyeing up one of these attacking positions. Having the option to rotate between both Coutinho and Bailey is an incredible option to have however and shows just how far Aston Villa have come under the current ownership. Bailey could of course play on the right side of this attack and probably even prefers that given that's the position he's taken up for most his career, however..


Right Sided CAM - Emi Buendia

If you'd have asked me this question two or three months ago I'd have answered Leon Bailey without a doubt. We all know though just how impeccable Buendia has been recently in this role. He's thriving under Gerrard's system and taking him out for a pacey winger doesn't sound like the smartest plan right now. If Buendia or Coutinho come off the boil at all though, make no mistake that Bailey will be waiting in the wings to snatch up one of these positions to make his own. As for Bertrand Traore, I think he will have to settle for being a squad player for now and look to try and take his chances when they arise.



ST: Ollie Watkins

If we're purely discussing out and out strikers then this position should belong to Danny Ings. With that being said though, Ollie Watkins' work rate and determination gets him in just ahead of Ings.. for now. There's a lot to be said for how hard Watkins works and presses and it makes Villa a better team for it. The only issue is goals, Watkins has only netted five times so far this season and although Ings hasn't done any better in that regard, nobody can deny that he is more than capable of getting a bag full of goals at this level. So if Watkins continues to draw blanks then Gerrard may have no choice but to throw in one of the greatest Premier League scorers of the last few years in to replace him.


This leads nicely onto the players who are closest to breaking into this first 11. Of course for reasons just mentioned you would have to say Danny Ings will always be knocking on that door as will Leon Bailey. Douglas Luiz is the other player who really has enough quality to be in this lineup in some shape or form, whether that's staking his claim to one of the central midfield positions or keeping Nakamba out the team at DM once he's back from injury. Outside of those top three a lot of Villa fans would like to see more of Carney Chukwuemeka. With the youngster unsure on where his future lies it would be nice to see him get more minutes to prove to Gerrard why he should be getting in ahead of some of these big names. Ashley Young's versatility also makes him a good shout to get some starts but at 36-years-old and with the players that are ahead of him, you'd expect him to remain a squad player and hopefully sees out his career here at Villa Park.



So there we have it, the team Gerrard most recently sent out to defeat Everton isn't too far away at all from our best 11 in my opinion. Do you agree? Make sure to let us know and share your own starting 11 either @MikeyGalaszia or of course @AVFCFaithful_


Up The Villa!


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