How Aston Villa can counter Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere

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Charles N’Zogbia has returned to the Aston Villa side to great effect in recent weeks, collecting three assists and one goal in five games, for a Villa side that lacked inspiration and creativity. Deployed in a ‘number ten’ position behind Christian Benteke, with Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann providing pace on the flanks, N’Zogbia’s direct dribbling has proved useful for connecting midfield and attack.

But few managers play their usual style at the Emirates, with many choosing to sacrifice attacking ambition in order to stiffen the backline or midfield. Paul Lambert is a serial formation switcher and a difficult manager to predict: he played two upfront at the Emirates with Norwich last season, but that was towards the end of the campaign, with Norwich’s mid-table position assured. With Villa still fighting relegation, Lambert might opt for more caution.

He’ll remember the excellent job Barry Bannan did in the first fixture at the head of the midfield triangle, playing an energetic role and pressing as soon as Arsenal’s defenders played the ball into midfield, meaning Arsene Wenger’s side struggled to get the ball forward.

The presence of Jack Wilshere, rested in that game, will make this more difficult, but also makes it imperative that Villa aren’t outnumbered in midfield.

Against an Arsenal side with three talented passers, it would be a huge risk for Lambert to field only two men in the middle. Pushing N’Zogbia wide might be an option, but three proper central midfielders makes sense for Villa this weekend.

This post courtesy of Pick Our Team is by Michael Cox. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans. The article was originally posted here.