Why Dean Smith should stick with 4-3-3 system for Villa

Aston Villa face Everton this weekend with Dean Smith hopeful that an almost full-strength squad leads to a positive run of form in the coming weeks.

From our disrupted pre-season to the injury and fitness setbacks we’ve been dealt since the Premier League campaign got underway, it hasn’t been ideal for Smith when trying to pick his strongest XI.

READ MORE: Jacob Ramsey form to start season a real boost for Villa and Smith

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Ahead of the visit of Everton on Saturday evening though, the Villa boss is getting somewhere close to that and so it sets up an intriguing wait to see what system he goes with, and equally which personnel get the nod within that system.

Why 4-3-3 is best option for Villa

We’ve seen Villa adopt a 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 and 3-5-2 so far this season, and given the depth and options at Smith’s disposal, it’s certainly a strength of our squad now that we can change things depending on the opposition or perhaps on which players are available.

Our best performance of the season arguably came in the 3-0 defeat to Chelsea last time out, which saw us deploy the 3-5-2, as Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins both started the game.

However, moving forward to Everton at home, Villa will need to be more proactive and try to control both the tempo of the game and possession in order to put pressure on the visitors throughout and limit their attacking threat.

With that in mind, the 4-3-3 is perhaps the best bet. The back four picks itself when all available, and so we can expect to see Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings and Matt Targett play in front of Emiliano Martinez, provided the Argentine is given the nod after his spell away from the squad on international duty and subsequently having to abide by Covid regulations.

Things begin to become a little more tricky moving into midfield. Douglas Luiz and John McGinn have long formed the heart of the side in that area, and Jacob Ramsey’s form to start the season should make him a certainty in the XI to allow him to now kick on, cement his place in the team and show continuous improvement through regular playing time.

That in turn leaves us with an attacking trident. Ings was largely ineffective against Chelsea, and with Watkins now fully fit, it has to be our top goalscorer from last season who leads the line. With Leon Bailey ready to go after recovering from injury and Emiliano Buendia potentially available, that front three looks a real handful.

Ings, Bertrand Traore, Anwar El Ghazi, Morgan Sanson and others give us quality off the bench and as players who can all make the difference in a split second, it’s something that Smith will be delighted with as he can influence games in the latter stages if things aren’t going our way.

It really is going to be fascinating to see what the Villa boss goes with, but the 4-3-3 seems to be the best choice for now given the form and fitness of the players who suit the system best.