Aston Villa have 12 points after 10 games, the exact same tally as last season, and despite sitting 9th, could be in a dangerous position were they to lose, or even perhaps draw with Norwich. With United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal all to come in the next two months, Alex McLeish will no doubt have hoped to have amassed more points by this stage after a friendly looking start to the schedule.
Another thing that the Villa manager would have hoped for is to be able to count on the fitness of Jermaine Jenas, who will be in the Aston Villa squad for the first time in over two months since joining on loan from Tottenham. The Scot will be hoping that Jenas can add calm to a fairly frantic midfield, as well as getting from box-to-box to help out in both defence and attack.
Though the usual central partnership of Petrov and Delph have been decent in terms of pass success rate on paper, with 79% and 80% respectively, Villa have struggled to keep the ball of late. The average pass accuracy of the team is just 73%, which ranks Villa as the third worst in the league, only ahead of Blackburn (72%) and Stoke (71%). (All stats courtesy of www.whoscored.com via Opta)
A similar stat occurs when looking at the average possession of Premier League sides, with Villa’s 43% only above the aforementioned duo and this weekend’s opponents Norwich.
Step forward Jermaine Jenas. The former England midfielder fell out of favour under Harry Redknapp due to a glut of talent in his position at White Hart Lane and will hope to rekindle his career at Villa Park. A look at the 28-year-old’s stats from last season make encouraging reading. His excellent 88% pass success rate was the best in the entire team at Spurs having surprisingly made as many as 19 appearances in the league, with 14 coming from the start.
Another plus will be a slight increase in height of the side if he plays. Although he is not tall he is significantly more so than the likes of Delph, Ireland, Bannan etc. and finished last season with an impressive 63% aerial duel success rate. When compared against the likes of Petrov (33%) and Delph (31%) from this season, his ability in the air should help. Chris Herd is decent in the air with a 57% success rate thus far, but whether he is a centre midfielder I don’t know as his distribution is often poor, reaching his target with just 65% of his passes so far.
Though many Villa fans were underwhelmed by the signing, Jermaine Jenas arrival onto the scene may be what Villa are missing in some regards, allowing the flair players such as Charles N’Zogbia to flourish – something he hasn’t managed to do thus far!
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