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Analyzing How Emery’s Villa Defeated West Ham: Hammering the Hammers

Unai Emery’s Aston Villa put on an impressive display at Villa Park. There is a palpable sense of excitement and hope surrounding the team, as they continue to rise..

Aston Villa edged closer to the top of the table, only four points behind the leaders, and just one point behind Liverpool in the top 4, after their 4-1 victory over West Ham. Despite a solid start to the season, West Ham’s performance has slowed down in recent fixtures.

Emery’s impressive ability to maximize his squad’s potential has proven to be valuable for Villa, who have now emerged as a major threat to teams like Newcastle and Manchester United. Their latest victory over West Ham, courtesy of Emery’s tactical prowess, has further cemented their position as a top contender for the top 4. How did he manage to demolish Moyes’s West Ham?

Also read: Liverpool Vs Nottingham Forest: Premier League 2023/24 Match Preview

Aston Villa in Possession:

Emery’s fluid 4-2-2-2 reaped rewards against Moyes’s 4-2-3

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Pics 1, 2, 3: Emery’s Villa settled and 1st phase structures

Emery’s 4-2-2-2 with Zaniolo and Mcginn at the top of the midfield box with a base provided by the Kamara-Douglas Luiz duo ensured a dynamic advantage even if Moyes’s 4-2-3-1 could provide a 5v4 midfield advantage, the usage of GK Martinez in buildup was very well orchestrated to escape the pressure of West Ham.

Both Zaniolo and Mcginn could drag and drop to compress or stretch the pitch with Watkins and Diaby comfortable with rotating (Diaby had freedom to rotate and cut inside from right where Mcginn played). This ensured that West Ham’s pivots would generally be displaced which in-turn creates spaces in the centre.

Also read: Captain Sandy and Fraser Olender Clash on Below Deck: Unveiling the Tensions and Drama

Vid 1: Douglas Luiz’s Goal, the opener of the game

The idea of having Watkins drift wide to create separation around the box centrally worked well for Aston Villa. In the video above, for example, Douglas Luiz steps back initially as Zaniolo makes the run inside the box during which space in front of the box is created. The cue for Luiz is then to occupy that space which he does so brilliantly as he dispatches the goal past Areola.

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Pic 4 Pushing Fullbacks to keep width Villa were able to create larger numerical advantages in the middle

It’s also important to note that Emery cleverly adjusted to David Moyes’ tactics, recognizing that a more stable defensive formation would lead to a compact 4-4-2 block. This setup played to Emery’s advantage as, in the later stages, Villa adopted a 3-2-2-3 formation with Digne and Cash providing width. This allowed Diaby, Zaniolo, McGinn, and Watkins to work together, with Kamara playing a role in the defensive structure, enhancing their ability to avoid transitioning play.

In Pic 4, for example, having players between lines allowed to disrupt the 4-4-2 structure, and Aston Villa were in ways unlucky not to get that 2nd goal in 1st half. But in 2nd half, the Watkins drifting wide yielded goals as this time Watkins put up a scintillating finish to kill the game.

Vid 2: Watkins’ goal against West Ham that sealed the game

It’s worth noting that West Ham faced difficulties in dealing with transitions, particularly on the flanks. Watkins effectively exploited the gap between the right-back and center-back, mirroring the situation described during Villa’s first goal. His ball-holding skills and the synchronized runs of his teammates contributed to the West Ham defenders’ confusion, making it challenging for them to prevent the impending transition.

Also read: Scott Disick’s Dual Back Problems: Car and Dirt Bike Incidents Take a Toll on His Health

Aston Villa out of Possession:

The rigid Emery 4-4-2 block that limited West Ham well

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Pics 5, 6: Emery’s 4-4-2 block.

Within the framework of West Ham’s 4-2-3-1 formation, notably visible in Pic 4, Emery made the tactical decision to implement a 4-4-2 structure. In this arrangement, the two strikers were instructed to shadow and mark Ward-Prowse and Alvarez, effectively blocking central progression. This strategy forced West Ham to focus on building their attacks out wide, aligning with Emery’s goal of confining their movements to the flanks and capitalizing on quick transitions.

The evidence was seen in Vid 1 when Watkins and Zaniolo could receive deep in the wide areas once they could breakthrough. With that, the spaces in centre could open as described before and this largely affected the performances of Alvarez and Ward Prowse. This also had to force Paqeuta to drop deeper and deeper to make contacts with the ball, and largely left West Ham to scramble to create quality chances.

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Pic 7 Villa dropping into a 5 3 2 in later stages of game

Once Villa took the lead, Emery displayed his tactical acumen by transitioning to a 5-3-2 or 5-4-1 formation when West Ham advanced with four players. This strategic adjustment allowed Villa to maintain a numerical advantage while effectively frustrating West Ham’s attempts to create scoring opportunities. Despite an unfortunate deflection that led to Jarod Bowen’s goal, Emery’s tactics largely succeeded in maintaining control of the game.

Also read: A More Optimistic Perspective On Manchester United’s Challenging Start To The Season.

Conclusion

With this victory, Aston Villa now sit at a comfortable 5th place on 19 points and have the required momentum to be a contender in the top 4 chase. Unai Emery’s team possesses the necessary squad depth to effectively balance their European commitments while maintaining a strong presence in the Premier League standings.

For Moyes, despite high expectations following the initial games, West Ham’s form has significantly deteriorated. This has placed Moyes under renewed pressure, sparking the familiar cycle of fluctuating confidence among the Hammers’ fans in his ability to lead the team. It remains to be seen whether he can guide West Ham back to their previous form.

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