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Will Nakamba and Villa be the Premier League's surprise package?

by Staff Writer
13 Oct 2020 at 12:25hrs | Views
Aston Villa put forward a statement in their Premier League contest against Liverpool, smashing the defending champions 7-2 at Villa Park. Zimbabwe international Marvelous Nakamba was part of the squad that defeated the Reds, playing in a defensive midfield role for the final 10 minutes of the action.

His inclusion on the bench highlights the strength in depth that Villa have at their disposal this term. It raises the question whether they are capable of great things season? Their victory over Liverpool was their third on the bounce following triumphs over Sheffield United and Fulham.

Those performances have allowed them to keep pace with the early pacesetters at the top of the table in the Premier League standings. After a near miss from relegation last season on their return to the top flight, Villa have splashed serious amounts of cash in the transfer market. Ollie Watkins, Emiliano Martinez, Matty Cash, Ross Barkley and Bertrand Traore all arrived at Villa Park over the summer.

The club have an abundance of talent at their disposal, but whether it's enough to make an impact over the course of a whole season remains to be seen. Nakamba will be one of many that will be itching to play a serious role for Dean Smith's men.

What Role Will Nakamba Play?
The Hwange-born midfielder was the newest addition to the cast of Zimbabwe players that have played in the Premier League following in the footsteps of Peter Ndlovu and Benjani Mwaruwari. He signed for Villa last summer in a deal worth £11m from Club Brugge where he had spent two seasons, winning the Belgian First Division in 2018. Nakamba slotted straight into the Villa midfield in front of the back four, and performed well enough in his 29 appearances in his debut campaign as the club avoided relegation. The 26-year-old has the trust of Smith, although he is splitting time with Douglas Luiz in front of the back four.

The Midlands outfit are currently deploying a system that sees Douglas Luiz operate just ahead of the backline in a role similar to that of N'Golo Kante at Chelsea. When playing teams of a similar caliber it makes sense to have only one defensive-minded midfielder on the field. Smith was bold against Liverpool and added new loan signing Ross Barkley straight into the fold. It pushed John McGinn further back, although the Scot is more of an attacking player.

Those tactics may make it difficult for Nakamba to start as many matches as he did last season. However, injuries and suspensions are part and parcel of the game, and there's no doubt that Smith sees the Zimbabwe international as a core part of his squad. Chances will come for the 26-year-old, he just has to ensure that he seizes the opportunity when it comes along.

What can Villa Achieve This Term?
Villa's incredible 7-2 win over Liverpool on home soil will have supporters dreaming of great things this term. The Villans have decent value in the Premier League betting odds at 2.50, as of October 9th, to finish in the top 10, which would be a major improvement on last season. However, that performance may just have been a flash in the pan. For as good as Smith's team were on the night, they did benefit from a few lucky deflections and a horrendous display from Liverpool's back-up keeper Adrian.

On the other hand, the performance of Watkins in the final third was extremely impressive. When splashing out £28m for a striker, seeing him get off the mark with a hat-trick is both pleasing and a relief for all connected at the club. Villa have wasted millions in the past on misfiring strikers, and they now have a man that can get goals this season and has the ability to improve.

The retention of Jack Grealish was also key. The England international has enjoyed a fine start to the campaign. If he remains at that level of form throughout the season, then Villa could well dream of more than a top-half finish. He was linked with Manchester United among others for a reason. McGinn also is a top-quality player - and with Barkley in the ranks, Villa have quietly assembled a midfield that many elite clubs would be pleased to field. That includes Douglas Luiz and Nakamba in the sitting roles.

Villa are unlikely to go all the way and do a Leicester of 2016 by winning the Premier League. The early signs are more encouraging that they will at the least avoid a relegation battle and dream of a challenge for a European spot. It's certainly not out of the question.

Source - Byo24News