The mammoth decision facing Dean Smith ahead of Aston Villa's clash with Arsenal

Asia's Tech News Daily

Aston Villa have had a mixture of results since switching to a 3-5-2 formation against Chelsea in the 3-0 loss. Despite losing the first game, the performance itself was decent enough to trial the system in the games that followed.

The team excelled using it against Everton as they turned the tables and won 3-0 themselves. It has also led to Villa’s first win in over a decade at Old Trafford after Kortney Hause guided his header past David De Gea in the dying embers of the game.

Moments like these are short lived-in football, however. The loss against Tottenham Hotspur was largely put down to the space in which this formation allowed Son Heung-min to operate within and many questioned whether or not it was the correct way to play against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Villa have now lost their last two games and fans are beginning to question whether or not the 3-5-2 is the correct way to set up for the game against Arsenal on Friday night. This issue was discussed on the latest episode of the Claret & Blue podcast by Ashley Preece and Dan Rolinson.

Dan had this to say on the matter: “When we win at United with three at the back it’s the best thing ever, when we throw away a lead against Wolves it’s time to go back to 4-3-3. I don’t know if it is as simple as that, but it does feel like it has run its course. Tuanzebe and Hause are either or for me, neither are really good enough to be starting every game.

“You’re also shoe-horning in a striker at the moment isn’t scoring goals. You may have to drop the weaker centre back and weaker striker and go back to 4-3-3.”

To which Ashley Preece added: “Yeah I think we’ll see that sooner rather than later. I think Smith has persevered with it to fit in his two men up front as he didn’t want to drop either one of them. He’s told me Watkins won’t play out wide for him, but he may have to. I think we will see a change in formation for Arsenal on Friday for sure.”

A link to the latest episode of the Claret & Blue podcast can be found below.

Villa have played 23 minutes in the 3-5-2 formation and recorded an expected goals (xG) value of 3.88 xG. In this same amount of time, they have conceded a total of 6.28 xG from their opponents, which may hint that this formation isn’t as effective defensively as many think.

Villa have enjoyed success against Arsenal in recent times but if they are to have a similar experience this time, Dean Smith may have to seriously consider switching back to the 4-3-3 he used against the likes of Newcastle United.

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