Five big talking points as Aston Villa crash to disappointing Arsenal defeat

Having now lost three consecutive games, Aston Villa boss Dean Smith has a lot to think about to put things right and get us back on track.

While the collapse against Wolves was painful enough, our misery was compounded on Friday as we didn’t get the reaction that we were expecting at Arsenal as we slipped to a 3-1 defeat.

READ MORE: Aston Villa player ratings vs Arsenal: McGinn, Buendia and Ings all struggle

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Our current run of form is progressively starting to get increasingly more concerning, and so Smith and his Villa players have to now stand up and produce a serious response when we host West Ham next weekend.

Time to ditch the 3-5-2

While it worked in our win over Man Utd at Old Trafford and at home against Everton, we’ve now suffered three losses on the bounce using this system.

It may well work against certain opposition in certain match scenarios, but currently, it is not producing the impact that we’re desperate for.

It was clear early on in the first half at the Emirates that it was leaving us vulnerable. Our midfield duo were completely overrun leaving our back three exposed, while they were tasked with playing it out from the back which in turn unsurprisingly led to countless turnovers in possession.

Further, players looked lost in the system and far from comfortable across the pitch, leading to breakdowns in passing and communication. In turn, it’s time for it to go for now at least.

Watkins, Ings are not working together

The lack of combination play between Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings is alarming. The pair aren’t working well together as a pair and if anything, they are having a negative impact on each other.

While they did indeed score in previous games against Tottenham and Wolves respectively, it’s not just about their goals.

Villa are having to sacrifice and neglect a lot by using them both together as our creativity suffers as a result. It’s a decision that could come to really cost Smith if he persists.

Leon Bailey has to start

As we’ve seen from the Jamaican international in previous appearances off the bench against Watford and Everton, he is a real handful and a pivotal part of our attack moving forward.

With his pace, technical quality and creativity, he’s going to be involved in a high number of goals for us this season and so it’s hoped that with 45 minutes in his legs on Friday night, he’ll soon be ready to start games.

The dynamic he brings to our attacking unit is huge, and Smith will no doubt be delighted if he can name him in his starting XI against West Ham.

Play Buendia is his best role

Villa need to find a way to get the best out of Emiliano Buendia, and to start, it would be worth deploying him in a role that suits him best.

As we saw during his time at Norwich City, the Argentine enjoys playing on the right side but drifting into the middle and around the final third in general to be a creative influence.

We saw flashes of it against Wolves and he had a big chance tonight against Arsenal, but while he can do a job as a No.10, we’re not fully utilising the qualities that he possesses.

Go back to basics and what works for us

Having now conceded eight goals in our last three league games, which have all ended in defeat, something has to change.

It’s time for Smith and Villa to go ‘back to basics’ to an extent, and go with what worked for us previously. Namely, settling on a back four to keep things tight, pack the middle with a midfield trio so that we can compete in those all-important battles and not get overrun again and play Watkins up top on his own to press and spearhead our attack.

If we get back on track, then comes the time to feed in ideas. For now, this could be one of the biggest decisions of Smith’s tenure as if we lose against West Ham, it will only serve to increase both criticism of him and pressure on him.