Orjan Nyland Aston Villa
Orjan Nyland has had a very mixed start to his Aston Villa career, but not everything, such as Friday’s goal, has been his fault. We take a look at the positives and negatives in his game.
Words by Matt Blogg (@Blogg_Matt)

Like any player in the history of sport, Orjan Nyland has ups and downs. Already in his short spell at Villa he has kept a clean sheet, made some ridiculous saves and won some fans over. But he has also dropped numerous balls, conceded an embarrassing number of goals and looked noticeably uncomfortable. So he splits opinion, but goalkeepers need patience and backing so there’s no need to worry just yet.

He may not have had the best start to a Villa career that we’ve seen from a keeper in recent times, but he is playing behind an ever-changing and frankly less than impressive back four, so while he will take the blame for some goals conceded and some dropped points, he can’t take the full force of the accusations.

Wigan at home for example, his league debut, Jedinak plays a short back pass forcing
him to run out and attempt to clear, but his clearance cannons in off Nick Powell. Instantly Nyland will have felt immense pressure and potentially blamed himself slightly, but the pass to him was thankless and left him with a very much uphill task. A positive from this incident that he has shown repeatedly however is that the 28 year old is quick and keen to come off his line, always offering the help that the defence often look for.

Contrastingly however, a lot of the time he comes for the ball, he isn’t convincing and doesn’t deal with it either well enough or at all. Look at that Ipswich equaliser for example. The decision to come for the cross looks a decent one, but if you come you
have to claim, and he certainly didn’t do that, fumbling to the feet of Chalobah who swivelled and scored. So Nyland is far from convincing and is demonstrating rather poor aerial ability so far, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

His shot stopping for example is seemingly pretty good. He has made some very good saves, such as the one with his feet at Blackburn and a decent stop down to his right at home to Brentford – as well as an emphatic double save late on against Reading, so he is clearly a capable keeper. He is part of the Norway squad and Villa, or Bruce, had allegedly been scouting him for multiple years so he clearly has something about him. We just haven’t really seen it yet.

If you watch him he is quite vocally dominant, always communicating with his defenders, but you do wonder whether or not they actually listen with some of the plays shown. I’m sure he isn’t calling for a dodgy back pass to put him under pressure for example. He has kept one clean sheet, and I don’t want to dress this up as an achievement because it was at home to Rotherham, but a keeper’s first clean sheet is huge. Obviously losing to Sheffield Wednesday was an inevitable set back, but he will
(should) have a confidence now that he can keep a clean sheet in this league, and with fans backing him rather than attacking him, we could potentially see a very good keeper blossom.

So Nyland hasn’t had the most convincing starts, but he is an experienced goalkeeper and seems confident enough to get through the tough times. A settled back four would help him no end but as long as Bruce is in charge he can expect nothing of the sort, so it will remain tricky for him. But he is a leader, and he is surrounded by leaders, so Villa’s defensive frailties should disappear and the solidity of last season’s team could easily be seen again this time around.

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