6 take-ons: Smith’s summer signing is providing Villa with a source of optimism – opinion

This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets… 

Despite Aston Villa falling to a third consecutive Premier League defeat in their West Midlands derby against Wolves, Dean Smith can look to the promising and increasingly consistent form of one summer signing as a source of optimism in his side’s bid to retain their top-flight status in 2019/20.

Consecutive victories over Norwich City and Brighton had lifted both Villa’s league positioning as well as spirits surrounding B6, yet the stark and hard-hitting realities of the Premier League have begun to firmly ring true for Smith’s side.

They’ve now suffered three successive losses to Liverpool, Manchester City and most recently Wolves, sending the newly-promoted outfit to 18th place; just three points above the relegation zone.

Villa’s porous defending – having conceded the fourth-highest number of goals (20) so far this season – has been a clear drawback despite a distinct ability to attack with vigour and intent – having scored 17 goals, the second-highest in the bottom-ten. Central to the frontline’s relative success has been summer signing Trezeguet.

Signed from Kasimpasa, the Egyptian international has now scored in back-to-back Premier League games after a mixed start to life in England, with a red card against Crystal Palace in September halting his initially consistent presence in the starting XI.

After serving the one-match suspension, Trezeguet was resigned to a spot on the bench for three of Villa’s next four league fixtures, but Smith has re-ignited his faith in the tricky winger to start him in their last three fixtures, with a series of exceptional performances alongside goalscoring returns vindicating his manager’s decision.

Across the last two league games against Liverpool and Wolves, Trezeguet has had 24 touches in the final third – more than any other Villa player – whilst having received 22 passes in the opponent’s half – another team-high that highlights the winger’s ability to find space and offer a dimension of attacking purpose to his side’s frontline.

With six take-ons, Trezeguet is tied with John McGinn, highlighting how the Egyptian is not only finding space to receive passes but is also creating space to dart through opposition defences and provide the likes of Wesley with the type of service that the Brazilian front-man can thrive off.

These are tricky times for Villa with their desire to stay in the top-flight likely to be tested over the coming weeks ahead of the festive fixture list, but Smith can unquestionably take solace in the ever-improving form of his summer signing Trezeguet who is gradually growing into his role.

If the 25-year-old can retain his starting berth and continue to act as a source of both goals and creativity, then Smith will find it increasingly difficult to drop the winger from his place in the Villa starting XI.

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