Aston Villa vs. West Bromwich: Four Things We Learned at Villa Park
On Sunday, Aston Villa and West Bromwich drew 1-1 at Villa Park. While the first half was fairly disappointing, the second half was very entertaining.
Both sides got somewhat scrappy goals, but had many chances to win the game. In the end, a draw seems fair.
The result will certainly leave West Bromwich the happier team, as the Baggies are in sixth place, tied in points with Tottenham. Aston Villa, on the other hand, have won just one game and are stuck in 15th place.
Here are five things that we learned (or were strongly reinforced) in the Midlands Derby:
West Bromwich Are Best with Shane Long as Lone Striker
Shane Long is one of the top strikers in the English Premier League and has been an integral part of West Bromwich's early season success.
The Baggies play with one striker up top and three attacking midfielders/wingers. So far this campaign, that formation has worked very well.
Shane Long has started five of West Brom's six EPL matches, playing well in all but one of the games. In the match he didn't start, Long came off the bench to assist the winning goal.
Both Lukaku and Odemwingie are great strikers, but Long is certainly the best pick. When the Irish player is on form, he is almost unstoppable.
Aston Villa Have Major Problems Scoring Goals
Last season, Aston Villa scored the second-least number of goals in the EPL with 37 goals.
After the first six matches of the season, it seems that they still have a problem scoring.
While they did net four times against Manchester City in the League Cup, Aston Villa don't look like a team with enough attacking options.
Paul Lambert has Darren Bent, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann at his disposal, but will need to find the perfect combination up front if Aston Villa are going to score goals this season.
Romelu Lukaku Needs More Time to Improve
When West Brom beat Liverpool 3-0 on the opening day of the season, people doubted Chelsea's decision to loan out Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian forward only played 25 minutes on his debut, but put in a great performance and scored.
In his second appearance for the Baggies, Lukaku came off the bench and played well once again. A few weeks later, he scored the only goal of the match against Reading.
There is no doubt that Lukaku has been great since his loan move to the Hawthornes. Nonetheless, the 19-year-old still has to improve a lot if he wants to play for a team as good as Chelsea.
Against Aston Villa, Lukaku made little impact and had some very poor first touches. He has great strength, but he will need to be better on the ball.
Aston Villa Are Smart Buying Lower-League English Players
In the past few years, Aston Villa have mainly bought players from inside the English Premier League.
Prior to the start of the 2011-12 season, Villa purchased a total of three players (N'Zogbia, Hutton and Given), all of them from fellow English sides.
Throughout the 2010-11 campaign, they bought five players, three of them joining from EPL teams. And in summer 2009, Villa made nine transfers, all joining from English clubs.
Over the past summer, Villa chose to continue this recent habit and purchase players from English sides, but this time from the lower leagues.
Paul Lambert brought in Matthew Lowton from League One side Sheffield United, Joe Bennett from Middlesbrough (Championship), Jordan Bowery from League Two club Chesterfield and Ashley Westwood from Crewe Alexandra (League One).
All four players are young and have lots of potential. And Villa will be delighted that they signed all four for around £9 million.
Matthew Lowton has already made a great impact at Villa Park, starting in every single match so far this season. The other three English acquisitions have only made substitute appearances, but it can't be long before they are given their chance to shine.