Talking tactics: Major Villa flaw that has proven to be costly in losing streak

Aston Villa will look to end a five-game losing streak at home against Brighton on November 20, but they must fix the midfield to have a chance of doing so.

It’s been a bitterly disappointing and frustrating run of results for Villa over the past month or so, with our win over Man Utd at Old Trafford seeming so long ago now.

READ MORE: What Smith must do to turn things around for Villa after international break

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From the no-show at Tottenham to the collapse against Wolves and the disappointment vs Arsenal, West Ham and Southampton, it has been a period to forget for Dean Smith and his players, as they all now come under intense pressure.

Time will tell what the Villa hierarchy decide to do in the coming days regarding Smith’s future, but in the event that he is given an opportunity to turn things around after the international break, there is one area that he needs to find a solution in as soon as possible.

Villa midfield proving to be liability

One of the reoccurring themes over the course of this five-game losing streak has been a poor Villa midfield that has been bypassed and overrun time and time again.

We saw it against Arsenal and West Ham, and Southampton followed suit despite the switch in system to a 4-2-3-1 on Friday night, while a change to a 4-4-2 in the second half paid dividends.

As seen in the images below, Marvelous Nakamba and John McGinn had no answer to the Saints in the first half, as they offered little to no protection in front of the backline throughout the opening 45 minutes and were sloppy and a non-factor in terms of offering composure in midfield and controlling the game for us.

If Villa are to turn this around, we must find the answers in that department as ultimately if we continue to be completely outplayed in midfield, we’re going to continue to lose games.

The only time this season where it has seemed as though we’ve dominated in midfield is with a three in a 4-3-3 system. That would hopefully see Douglas Luiz, McGinn and Jacob Ramsey take up those spots, although it would be a boost to finally see what Morgan Sanson can offer on a long run of games after his impressive outing against Chelsea last month.

There has been a real lack of understanding and physicality in that area over the past five games with the players clearly not suited to those systems, and it’s simply not good enough at this level as games can be won and lost based on who prevails in that all-important midfield battle. If we don’t protect our defence and have the quality and composure to build attacks from midfield instead of constantly giving the ball away via our defenders, we’re going to continue to struggle to break out of this slump.