Aston Villa could bench Carlos and unleash “versatile” gem to ease Digne burden

    Aston Villa have been sensational this season under Unai Emery and a massive 1-0 win over treble-winners Manchester City on Wednesday night was a testament to how good a job the manager has done since moving to the Midlands just over a year ago.

    However, with games coming thick and fast, Villa cannot afford to bask in the glory over their victory in midweek, with league-leaders Arsenal coming to town on Saturday. With four points separating the two sides, the Villans can prove they truly are title challengers by beating the Gunners.

    Many may expect Emery to go with the same starting lineup that put City to the sword on Wednesday but the Spanish coach is a notorious tinkerman and could be looking to make things even more difficult for his old side by making one key tactical change.

    Diego Carlos’ statistics this season

    Diego Carlos spent the majority of last season absent with a long-term injury but has become a regular under Emery over the past few months. The manager started the season using a back four comprising Lucas Digne as the left-back, Pau Torres and Ezri Konsa in the heart of the defence, and Matty Cash at right-back.

    However, recently, Emery has found his new favourite tactical ploy by employing Konsa as a right-back, with Carlos sitting alongside Torres.

    Meanwhile, Cash has dropped to the bench. This strategic decision has had mixed effects so far. While Villa kept a clean sheet against City during the week, Carlos also put in a “sloppy” performance away at Bournemouth last weekend, as was the opinion of The Athletic’s Jacob Tanswell.


    Emery must now bench “sloppy” 6/10 Aston Villa star

    This £26m dud lost possession of the ball 12 times for Aston Villa against Bournemouth and should be dropped in the next game.


    The Brazilian gave away a goal after playing the ball directly to the Cherries’ Ryan Christie who slipped in Dominic Solanke and the centre-forward made no mistake about tucking his chance past Emiliano Martinez.

    Furthermore, at home in the 1-0 win over City, the 30-year-old received a FotMob match rating of 6.9 which was the lowest of any Aston Villa player in the starting lineup. The centre-back failed to win a single tackle and triumphed in merely 33% of his ground duels and 50% of his aerial duels.

    Carlos did not have a bad game, but Emery could potentially look to replace the experienced defender with someone who will be champing at the bit to get back into the starting lineup.

    Matty Cash’s statistics this season

    Cash’s last Premier League start came away in a 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur a fortnight ago. The Poland international was replaced at half-time with the game locked at 1-1, having featured on the right side of Aston Villa’s midfield four throughout the opening 45 minutes.

    Emery labelled the £80k-per-week whiz as “versatile” before so this tactical change certainly fit the manager’s description.


    Konsa has done quite well at right-back and, against Man City in midweek, the 26-year-old won 67% of his tackles and 100% of his total duels, keeping the opposition quiet on his side.

    However, the centre-back-cum-fullback put just one cross into the box, ending the match with a 0% crossing accuracy, as per FotMob. Meanwhile, on the left side, Digne whipped eight balls into the box, creating one opportunity for his teammates to score.

    There was a huge burden placed on the Frenchman to supply crosses from the wide areas as he delivered more balls than Konsa, Leon Bailey and John McGinn put together.

    Konsa is not a marauding fullback, with Emery expecting the former Brentford man to tuck inside and become a third centre-back while Digne bombs on.

    Nevertheless, pushing Konsa back into his preferred spot at centre-half and bringing Cash back into the team could remove some of the creative burden from Digne’s shoulders as Cash boasts similar attacking numbers to his teammate on the opposite side.

    Per 90 Metrics

    Matty Cash

    Lucas Digne




    Expected Assists



    Progressive Passes



    Progressive Carries



    Progressive Passes Received



    Pass Completion %









    Passes To Final Third



    Passes To Penalty Area



    Crosses To Penalty Area



    Stats via FBref

    Digne is still outperforming Cash in several key metrics such as crosses per 90 and progressive passes received per 90 but is actually boasting more assists than his counterpart and could help Villa be a little more dangerous on the right side against Arsenal.

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