Getting To Know Wesley Moraes

We’ve heard a lot about Big Wes, but outside of a few clips and highlight videos, we haven’t really gotten a great feel for his game.  This preseason game against Minnesota United in the US was the first look that we got of the big Brazilian and I was quite excited.

Not knowing much about the player, but hearing about his size/strength, I figured that we got a target man and a different player that Smith used during his time with Villa.  Seeing a long ball from the goalie towards Wesley got me a little nervous that we were going to turn into a route one team, at least doing it more when he was on the pitch.

1 - WesLongBallTarget

But as it turns out, Dean Smith and the board might know what they are doing, as it seems that they have added a player that can replicate what Tammy gave us last year. That was the only time that we sent a long ball towards the Brazilian’s head and the rest of the game, we kept the ball on the floor during build up play with Wesley playing a big part in that.  It’s reassuring that Villa looked more or less the same as they did playing in the Championship with Moraes playing the role of target man, but receiving the ball at his feet and linking up (or attempting to) with his wingers/midfielders:

2 - ToFeetMid

3 - ToFeetAttacking

4 - ToFeetAttacking

5 - ToFeetAttackingCross

It appears as if Wesley does a good job of making quick decisions, he had a number of quick one touch passes and always seemed to know where he wanted to go with the ball, making the correct decisions more time than not.  He also showed the skill and the footwork to actually get the ball to his teammates and execute what he was seeing and even when he had to take a few touches

Wesley’s quick feet/decision making was impressive and on display on his early shot attempt:

6 - ToFeetShot

Here he was able to link up Targett a few different times before finding the space to curl a shot that was pretty close to getting on target.

The ability to link up with his teammates seems to be just one part of the striker’s job in Dean Smith’s system.  The other is being able to make yourself available to teammates in the box.  In this area, Wesley also seems to get a passing grade.  His movement was pretty good throughout and he was able to find space consistently in the box.

7 - Movement

7a - Movement

8 - MovementShot

Now getting in position is one thing, but the ability to capitalize on it is another thing completely. You can argue that Wesley looked his worst when he got his best chance of the match.  He had a pretty clean header with the chance of getting it on target, but missed and sent it over the bar:

9 - MovementHeader

We shouldn’t judge a striker on one miss and he did a good job of putting himself in good positions throughout the match, but you would hope he’d finish an opportunity like this.

Overall, I thought that Wesley’s first game was pretty encouraging. He showed he can work in Dean Smith’s system and that he is comfortable using his feet to link up play and can put himself in good positions to create scoring chances.  Hopefully as he continues to play and get more comfortable with his teammates he will be able to take advantage of these chances and look better in the future.  Of course there is this disclaimer: While Wesley did do a good job of creating/finding space and picking out teammates, the quality of opponent may have had something to do with it as well.  It will be interesting if he can replicate this type of style against better competition.

Dusting This Thing Off

Well, it’s been quite a while huh?  The combination of doing some writing at Villa’s SBNation blog, Aston Villa getting relegated, and life getting in the way, I took a few years off (from writing, not from watching Villa).  Well, with the team getting promoted I have found myself getting excited about the team again.  When that happens, I tend to find myself wanting to write about the team, so I’m back, hopefully for an extended period of time.

My old posts are still up (remember when we had Callum Robinson out on loan?!?), so you can check that out to figure out what you can expect here. I enjoy using video/GIFs to help visualize my opinions, so that’s probably going to be the sites “speciality”.  Looking forward to talking Villa with everybody!

Quick Update

A quick break from our usual schedule to give everyone a little update.  As you may have seen if you follow me on Twitter, I will now be doing a little feature semi-weekly (during Villa away games) for 7500toHolte, the great Villa blog that’s a part of the SBNation network.  I’ll be taking a look at individual performances and my first post of the series was on Ashley Westwood’s performance against Crystal Palace.  I’ll still be posting regularly (or at least trying to) here and during the international break I plan on covering the Sunderland game, some transfers, and some international performances from Villa players.  So check back here regularly!

Tim Sherwood, Development, and Signing/Retaining Youth

Over the past week or so, Aston Villa has announced quite a few new contracts for players.  First, it was Ashley Westwood.  Then it was Leandro Bacuna, and finally it was Gary Gardner today.  These extensions are in addition to new contracts for Ciaran Clark and Nathan Baker.  When looking at these extensions, combined with the signings of Jordan Ayew, Jordan Amavi, Adama Traoré, Jordan Veretout, Idrissa Gueye, Rudy Gestede, Scott Sinclair (on a permanent basis), José Ángel Crespo, Mark Bunn, and Micah Richards.  When you look at all these players together, a certain theme emerges:

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Film Session: Matchday 1 – Big Rudy Makes The Difference

Hopefully after every game, I’ll take a look at the film and offer up my opinions on the match and some of the key moments, players, and actions.  This past game against Bournemouth was a tale of two halves in my opinion:

1st Half: Right Tactics, Wrong Personnel

To start the game, Tim Sherwood had Aston Villa sitting back and absorbing Bournemouth’s pressure, trying to take the buzz out of the stadium and slow down the pace of play.  That made a lot of sense to me, Bournemouth is a newly promoted side who never played in the Premier League before.  They want to go up and down and open up the game, the way that Villa was set up prevented that from happening.  In my opinion, the problem was the personnel that was put out there:

Aston Villa - Football tactics and formations

Villa started the game with Gabby as the sole striker with Ayew and Sinclair flanking him off of the wings.  If we were looking to dominate possession and let Gabby use his pace to get behind the defense, this lineup would have made some sense.  However, what Villa did was take on pressure and try to use Gabby as the release valve, playing long balls to him and expecting him to win the first header and allow Villa to control possession. That didn’t workout too well:

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Callum Robinson Game Action

On August 7th, Callum Robinson was loaned out to newly promoted Championship club Bristol City.  On August 8th, Callum Robinson played for Bristol City, coming on as a substitute in the 69th minute with the club trailing 1-0.


Robinson was played on the left, and it appeared as if play went through him a little bit with him getting a few opportunities to cross the ball in, with mixed results:

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