While Aston Villa have impressed on the road under Unai Emery, we haven’t quite found the right balance with our home form yet.
Since the Spaniard took charge in November, we’ve registered two wins, one draw and three defeats at Villa Park across all competitions, which backs up his frequent point about our need to continue to strive for consistency and improvement.
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The first win was hugely impressive as we ended our barren run against Man Utd in Emery’s first game at the helm, while we rode our luck at times in the victory over Leeds Utd.
Villa weren’t at our best in the draw with Wolves but managed to salvage a point, while defeats to Liverpool and Leicester City have come with real positives but major disappointment given our own mistakes, and the less said about the loss to Stevenage the better.
It’s been a mixed bag at home for Villa so far, and Emery will undoubtedly be relentless in his pursuit of solutions to ensure that we can be more formidable at home to match our impressive away form.
Tweak of tactics, different approach at home
Villa have been very effective away from home under the Spanish tactician, and that is largely down to our defensive organisation and discipline being spot on, but with the ability to play differently and maximise our qualities.
At home, the emphasis is on us to control the game, dictate the tempo and possession and break teams down. As we saw against Leicester, while we did well in the attacking phase to create many opportunities, we haven’t found the right balance yet as we left ourselves exposed defensively and individual errors were punished.
In contrast, we can sit back and deal with pressure away from home, and when we do win the ball back, we play quick, incisive passes to break the lines, move up the pitch swiftly and hit teams on the counter attack before they are able to organise themselves.
It’s a key change in approach, and so it’s our home form that needs to improve and that’s a big challenge for Emery to find the balance between maximising the strengths of his players, but getting them to adjust and adapt to playing a different way and doing it successfully with consistency.
We saw how we want to play against Leicester, and although it was far too much of an end-to-end game, there were large periods where we were controlled and importantly looked a threat when moving past the half-way line, rather than just dominating possession without really doing anything with it.
Much like in every other aspect of his approach, Emery is crystal clear in how he wants to play and what he demands of the players. While he may get to a point where he feels he needs to adjust slightly, it’s down to the players to be efficient and ruthless with the game-plan.
Those individual errors cost us this weekend, as did our lack of clinical play in front of goal as we had chances to turn it around in the second half. If we get the balance right, tighten things up at the back again and play with that same creativity and freedom, our home for will hopefully improve sooner rather than later.