Forget Targett: Aston Villa ace who lost possession 16x was Smith's true silver lining – opinion
Despite Bertrand Traore’s best efforts, Aston Villa suffered their first Premier League home defeat since the 3-1 loss to West Ham on Sunday as they came up short against Leicester City.
The 2-1 defeat to Leicester, courtesy of early strikes from James Maddison and Harvey Barnes in the first half, made it two losses from their last four fixtures for Dean Smith’s side.
Villa lacked any real ambition and courage without the injured Jack Grealish, as the statistics make for grim reading. Smith’s side could only muster two shots to Leicester’s seven on target in the entire game, which is a far cry from the eight they managed against Arsenal.
Grealish’s absence would be a big miss for any side, but it is his confidence in front of goal Villa miss the most when he is absent as, for the most part, they looked rather lost for ideas this afternoon without the 25-year-old.
However, although far from perfect, Traore was one of the very few who could have left Villa Park with his head held high.
Although Villa were torn apart by Leicester’s blistering counter-attacks, the Villans still found some of their own joy down the right flank with Traore.
The 55-cap Burkina Faso international had initially been kept rather quiet by a dogged defence but burst into life shortly after the break, latching onto a cross from John McGinn before rifling the ball into the back of the net.
With a SofaScore match rating of 7.1 for his efforts, the right winger ranked the third-highest out of the entire Villa squad, with only Matt Targett and Ahmed Elmohamady scoring higher, yet he was the only true silver lining to take away from the defeat.
No player from either side completed more dribbles successfully than Traore (3), including Targett and Elmohamady, with the 25-year-old showing a willingness to try and push the Villans up the pitch despite being pegged back in their own half for large chunks of the game.
BirminghamLive also graded the former Saints defender a squad-high 7/10 for his display, but it was the goalscorer who should earn the plaudits instead.
Of all his teammates, only Trezeguet could muster the same amount of shots on target as Traore, who accounted for 50% of the team’s total shots on target, as the likes of McGinn and Ollie Watkins struggled to get a foothold in the game.
In terms of the statistics, the winger was performing at a level far above his usual standards, as he averages just 1.2 dribbles per 90 in the Premier League while also winning more ground duels (7) than his season’s average of 2.6 per game, via SofaScore.
He also made two tackles, that being better than his average of 0.6 per game, whilst he wasn’t dribbled past at all, which shows that he worked hard to win the ball back and try to set his side on the front foot.
Traore may have lost possession 16 times – the third-worst of any player on the pitch – but that merely showed his desire to try and spring a reaction after going behind so early in the match.
Smith has come to rely on Grealish as his main creative asset, so he will have been secretly pleased to see the former Chelsea star step up to the plate and impress on the wing in his absence, even despite the 2-1 defeat.
AND in other news, Tyrone Mings was superb for Aston Villa vs Brighton…
Source: Football – Football Fan Cast