Trezeguet was an important part of Aston Villa’s survival – and if the Egyptian is confident this season – he’ll be key again moving forward.
Words: Guy Poxon | @GuyPoxon
Against Sheffield United, Trezeguet ran hard and got into space on a couple of occasions to make crosses, and once to obtain a half chance at the back post which he fired into the ground. Last season a back-post appearance became quite typical of Trezeguet. However, the Egyptian has split opinion last season and again during his outing against Sheffield with an energetic, but ineffective performance. He needs to show the quality on the ball and a directness that he showed in the Turkish Super Lig.
Trezeguet improved last season
December 4th was the last time before lockdown that Trezeguet was able to contribute to a Premier League goal after scoring a consolation goal in the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea. In that same time between the Christmas period and lockdown, the Egyptian struggled to create in the Premier League, only mustering 12 shots in 11 games. That’s almost one whole shot less per 90 minutes than Trezeguet averaged for the whole season, and it reflects a distinct lack in form shown by the entire Villa squad during those winter months leading up to the lockdown.
In the 11 games before lockdown, Trezeguet scored no goals, and didn’t manage any assists. He also only racked up only 1.38 cumulative expected goals and expected assists. However, post-lockdown is a different story.
Trezeguet was lauded for his 3 goals which contributed to vital wins against Crystal Palace and Arsenal, but he also managed to rack up some decent chances against Manchester United and Newcastle – which might have resulted in more goals for the Egyptian. He accumulated 2.11 expected goals during this period, too.
There’s no doubt that the Egyptian grew in confidence over the course of the season and the lockdown period gave him a much-needed chance to obtain a level playing field in terms of his fitness with the rest of the league.
It was tough for the Egyptian to adapt from a weaker league, but there were also signs of a more confident player after preseason performances against Arsenal and Manchester United where he started to cross and dribble the ball with a bit more purpose.
How does Trezeguet compare to his competition, including new boy Traoré?
Assuming that Jack will still spend some time on the left wing, you would imagine that Trezeguet will have to compete with Bertrand Traoré for that spot on the right. Now, even Traoré’s last season in France (a hit-and-miss season by all accounts of the Lyon fans) highlights that the Burkina Faso international is a potentially more rounded and impressive player than both Trezeguet and El Ghazi.
All of the stats below are from league games.
|Bertrand Traore 2019/20||Trezeguet 2019/20||El Ghazi 2019/20||Metric|
|23||34 ☑||34 ☑||Games played|
|65 ☑||39||40||Touches per 90|
|4.6 ☑||3.7||3.3||Ball recoveries per 90|
|18.4||13.5 ☑||14.7||Possession lost per 90|
|0.1||0.3 ☑||0.2||Goals per 90|
|4%||21% ☑||8%||Conversion rate %|
|1.8 ☑||1.3||1.8 ☑||Shots per 90|
|44%||60% ☑||49%||Shot accuracy %|
|0.3 ☑||0.1||0.2||Assists per 90|
|1.9 ☑||1||1.4||Chances created per 90|
|36 ☑||16.8||21||Passes attempted per 90|
|82% ☑||75%||72%||Pass accuracy %|
|5.6 ☑||3.1||4.7||Crosses attempted per 90|
|23%||16%||24% ☑||Crossing accuracy %|
|1.9 ☑||1.8||0.9||Tackles made per 90|
|53%||46%||56% ☑||Take-on success %|
|44% ☑||39%||35%||Aerial duel success %|
|1.6 ☑||1.2||0.6||Interceptions per 90|
|0.2 ☑||0.1||0.1||Blocks per 90|
|1.4 ☑||0.9||0.9||Dribbles per 90|
|1.9||2.1 ☑||1.6||Poor touches per 90|
Trezeguet did score more, and his shots were more accurate. That stands to reason with his improvement after lockdown being marked with a good goal return. However, if you look at his contribution outside of just goals, the scales tip in Bertrand Traoré’s favour.
In the worst season since starting his professional career, Traore beats his new Aston Villa colleagues when it comes down to:
- Number of touches
- Ball recoveries, tackles, interceptions, blocks and aerial duels
- Number of dribbles, assists per 90 minutes
- Chances created, passes attempted, pass accuracy and crosses attempted
Compared to Trezeguet, Traoré also wins in terms of crossing accuracy, take-on success, and taking less poor touches.
It stands to reason that Traoré could add some much needed quality to Villa’s attack, with his ability to cross and dribble – in a top European league – already there for everyone to see.
Trezeguet needs confidence
The Egyptian maverick we saw on YouTube when Trezeguet signed looked like he could score goals and make things happen in games – the former has turned out to be true, with Trezeguet contributing some important goals for Villa. However, it is his dribbling, ability to beat a man and make something happen, that could take him to that next level for Dean Smith. Against Sheffield, we could have done with Trezeguet getting defenders on the back foot a little more, creating the opportunity to put in more searching crosses or passes.
From 2017-2019, Trezeguet managed to produce over 3 dribbles per game for club and country, three times what he managed in the Premier League. While Trezeguet’s improvement last season was clear as he scored goals, started tracking back and generally worked hard, he could look to add more directness to his game. If you look at Zaha, Adama, Redmond, Buendia, Boufal, McNeil; you’ll see that they are effective for their teams because they can create dangerous situations for defenders by making them defend.
We have seen glimpses of Trezeguet’s willing running and dribbling ability against Watford, Brighton, Wolves, Burnley, Arsenal, Man City, West Ham, but only in snippets.
Based on his improvement last season and growth in confidence, don’t be surprised to see him getting better at dribbling past his opponents like he has done before in his career, and really wrestling with Traoré for the shirt.