Tammy Abraham will have joined Aston Villa expecting game time – but Steve Bruce will be need to ensure he doesn’t alienate Jonathan Kodjia or Villa’s other array of forwards in the process.
Words by Matt Blogg (@Blogg_Matt)
Steve Bruce won an overflowing handful of Villa fans back with the late loan capture of Tammy Abraham from Chelsea on a season-long deal. With Hogan and Davis both seemingly out for the foreseeable future, it was vital that Bruce brought in a goal-scorer of good enough quality to lead Villa’s line, and Tammy Abraham certainly does fit into that bracket.
However, Bruce never plays with two strikers, so you would think either Tammy Abraham is replacing our biggest threat in Kodjia, or he is coming to warm the bench and be an impact sub, which will not be Abraham’s preference. Should Bruce play two strikers, the pair could potentially complement each other pretty well, and with promising wingers on either side of them, the goals could seriously flow. The issue with this however is that neither of them really strike me as someone who wants a strike partner. They both want to lead the line on their own with wingers either side of them, as they both have all the attributes of a striker who can do this. Height, strength, skill, pace, and a lethal finish, so arguably it would make more sense to just play one of them at a time, and then pair them up with Hogan when he returns, as he does offer something different.
The tricky part will be keeping them both happy. Kodjia is the main man at Villa Park and won’t want to give up his position easily, but Abraham won’t have signed for Villa had he been told he was going to be sitting on the bench, so really it is anyone’s guess what Bruce’s plan actually is. We could potentially see Kodjia shifted out to the left while Bolasie regains fitness, with El Ghazi switching to the right wing with Abraham through the middle, which actually would be a very dangerous front three.
Don’t forget that Tammy Abraham has a senior England cap, so having him leading our line should be rather clinical in the Championship, but then again so did Gabby Agbonlahor, so no promises can be made. It does say something that Chelsea still aren’t willing to give him a chance, and the fact that he didn’t have any Premier League suitors isn’t too encouraging, but when on loan at Bristol City, Abraham scored 20+ league goals, so he has proven that, given the service, he can rack up some serious figures and lead a promotion push.
But then so can Kodjia. He won’t be too happy about being pushed to the left wing to compensate for a loan player taking his spot, so it is a tricky one. One thing that is certain is that it is very useful having both as attacking options, so Bruce has admittedly pulled off a bit of a coup there, but whether Abraham will have a major part to play or simply take on the role of Josh Onomah last season remains to be seen. It will be surprising if he starts against Blackburn with Kodjia on a decent run of form, scoring in the week for Ivory Coast, but my guess would be that Bruce won’t hesitate to throw him in if he feels something isn’t working.
Villa have once again used the loan market very productively (in attacking areas) and sealing the signing of Tammy Abraham cannot be underestimated, but he may not play the major role he desires with Kodjia performing well so far, so your guess is as good as mine. Will he be more than a bit part player?
Personally I hope so, I don’t want to see him wasted like Onomah was last season, but he has some work to do to get in the starting XI. He could tear the Championship up again, let’s just hope he gets the chance.