Aston Villa transfer need laid bare as frustrated Unai Emery recognises squad flaw

Unai Emery has alluded to a serious flaw at Aston Villa that must be corrected in the January transfer window.

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Aston Villa’s defeat to Everton in the Carabao Cup third round exposed a flaw that has been out of plain sight but brewing away in the background for a long while. Unai Emery made five changes for the clash and decided to bravely play John McGinn at left-back, while Leander Dendoncker featured despite a lack of match fitness.

Lucas Digne was in desperate need of a rest as he’s been in the left-back role for most competitions with Alex Moreno out. Matty Cash, another with perhaps too many minutes under his belt of late, was out on the right once again. Calum Chambers and Clement Lenglet would’ve been handy inclusions but they weren’t even in the squad.

Villa were able to rotate in talented and fresh legs in attack but were left exposed defensively due to a lack of sharpness. Even Youri Tielemans, who has been a regular off the bench this campaign, looked lethargic at the base of midfield. At the other end of the scale, the usually reliable Ezri Konsa appeared to be tired and put on one of his worst displays in recent memory.

In hindsight, given the mistakes made and Everton’s higher energy levels, the presence of youngsters would’ve probably helped but that wasn’t exactly realistic either. It makes you wonder why Sebastian Revan was loaned out to Rotherham United this early on in the season as Villa knew Moreno would be out until at least October and Ashley Young hadn’t been replaced.

Although this is a problem that a lot of supporters have been aware of since the transfer window slammed shut, the dumping out of the Carabao Cup is probably the clearest indication yet of Villa’s desperate transfer need. Emery is most certainly aware and, despite not outwardly requesting signings, his tone on Wednesday suggested reinforcements are required in January.

“I am demanding and have to be demanding with the players, they know it,” Emery said. For example, this is the first match Leander Dendoncker played, he was out of the pre-season and it’s not easy to recover and play in the idea we want to create. Another substitution was John McGinn, it was a plan to play 45 minutes with McGinn and Lucas Digne.

“I tried to reduce minutes with other players, but they played 90 minutes as we tried to come back the result. I don’t want to use all the effort with the players each match – Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday, Thursday – and that’s why we wanted to keep a balance with other players. I tried to manage 90 minutes trying to reduce the effort with some players,” Emery explained.

The head coach provided the media with updates on Alex Moreno and Jacob Ramsey, stating both would make a return soon, but the situation with Lenglet and Chambers wasn’t disclosed. Their omissions could suggest they too have been unlucky with fitness problems. This kind of misfortune is of course unpredictable but new faces are clearly no longer just desirable but instead a necessity.