After Villa’s midweek game against Reading, which saw a stellar display culminate in a 3-0 win for the Villa, they faced a struggling Norwich side away from home today which resulted in the sides looking like they should have swapped positions in the League Table.
For what seems like the third or fourth game in recent weeks, Bruce’s tactics seemed to be a masterclass until the side conceded.
Much like the games against Bolton and Hull, the Villa side struggled heavily to adapt into the game after something hadn’t gone their way (i.e, conceding a goal) which saw Bruce overload the amount of strikers on the pitch.
In today’s game, Villa ended the 90 minutes with three forwards on the pitch – in the form of centre-forward Scott Hogan, who had scored against Reading earlier in the week, and Jonathan Kodjia and Lewis Grabbam propping up the attack after replacing Albert Adomah and Robert Snodgrass relatively early into the second half.
Similar things happened against Bolton and Hull, who Villa were expected to dominate both on the pitch and the score sheet, but once again the Birmingham-based side struggled and ended the game with multiple strikers on the pitch who hadn’t made much of an impact on the game.
It seems as if Bruce’s Plan B when things don’t go to plan is to just throw a number of attacking options on the pitch and hope that their skill in front of goal will fix the issues.
In today’s game at Norwich, he sacrificed two of the more technical players in Albert Adomah and Robert Snodgrass – who could have been tired, granted – but this caused Jack Grealish to have to attempt to be the side’s sole creator, which in turn forced the likes of Birkir Bjarnason and Conor Hourihane to up their games.
Taking a look at Bruce’s selection for the bench today, there was very little in terms of options for the midfield. With a fully-fit squad, Bruce shouldn’t be relying on the idea of more forwards meaning more goals, because with Kodjia still rusty after returning from injury, and Hogan and Grabban realistically struggling in front of goal at the moment, we’re once again relying on our midfield.
Whilst relying on our midfield is something that shouldn’t be complained at, after having a midfield with poor attacking prowess for so long – but at the same time we should be relying on throwing three strikers on to the pitch when we’re losing.
Bruce’s tactics are at times confusing, at times exceptional, and at times infuriating – but the vast majority of the time, Villa look to have no Plan B.