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Talking Tactics

Samatta style can suit Aston Villa game plan

Adrian Clarke 5 Mar 2020
Mbwana Samatta, Aston Villa

Adrian Clarke says the Tanzanian striker can punish Leicester City if Dean Smith's side continue to send crosses into the box

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points ahead of Matchweek 29.

With the right service from his Aston Villa team-mates, Mbwana Samatta can unsettle the Leicester City defence on Monday.

The Tanzanian striker has scored twice in five appearances since joining in January and earned praise for his performances.

While Dean Smith's side remain reliant on captain Jack Grealish for inspiration, their new forward is proving to be a handful up front.

Hardworking, dangerous in the air and with a track record in front of goal, Samatta will make it an uncomfortable night for opposing centre-backs Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans.

Asking questions

Operating as a lone striker for a team struggling in the bottom three can be tough work, but the 27-year-old has a good attitude.

He is prepared to close down defenders and is always on the move, looking for an opportunity to find space inside the opposition half.

His brightness and industry can have an uplifting effect.

Aston Villa's strikers compared
PL 2019/20 Wesley Samatta
Mins played 1760 263
Km covered/90 8.8 9.3
Top speed 34.8 32.0
Sprints/90 9.9 15.7

The stats above show that the January signing from Genk is more mobile than Wesley, who is currently out injured.

He covers 0.5 km extra per 90 minutes and makes a significant number of additional sprints than the 23-year-old.

Samatta is not blessed with as much pace or power as the Brazilian, but his work ethic can force mistakes from defenders.

We saw that when Tottenham Hotspur's Toby Alderweireld put the ball into his own net at Villa Park last month when Samatta pressured him from behind.

In Monday's all-Midlands affair the Foxes defenders be given no time to relax.

Team player

Villa's midfielders and wide forwards have contributed 23 of the team's 34 goals this season.

Head coach Smith will hope Samatta will ease some of that burden, but having a striker who holds the ball up is also important to his style of play.

At 6ft (180cm) he is not the most imposing striker but Samatta has great timing in the air.

Outperforming Wesley
PL 2019/20 Wesley Samatta
Aerial duels/90 8.5 10.6
Mins/key pass 179.0 65.7
Passing accuracy in opposition half 71.7% 76.6%

This means he can provide a regular outlet for longer passes from back to front.

Excellent at laying the ball off or knocking it down for team-mates, he is comfortably outperforming Wesley in a creative sense, too.

He lays on more than double the number of chances, which means midfield runners have a greater incentive to gamble and make forward bursts.

Look out for this on Monday night at King Power Stadium.

Wing power

Of all the teams lying in the bottom six, Villa supply by far the most crosses for their forwards to attack.

Crossing by bottom-six clubs*
Club Open-play crosses
Aston Villa 421
West Ham 368
Brighton 363
Watford 317
AFC Bournemouth 306
Norwich 185

*up to Matchweek 28

Building down the flanks is a style that suits Samatta.

This was shown in last weekend's EFL Cup final defeat by Manchester City when he scored with a header from an Anwar El Ghazi cross.

Samatta's goal threat
PL 2019/20 Wesley Samatta
Shots/90 1.8 2.4 
Headed shots/90  0.5  1.0 
Mins/goal  358  263 

Leicester will likely dominate possession in this match but when illa get inside the final third, they have the talent to create problems from either wing.

Given the way Leicester have defended balls played into the box, this could have a major bearing on the outcome.

If the Foxes switch off for a moment, Samatta is good enough to punish them.

Also in this series

Part 1: Chelsea transformed by adventurous Alonso 
Part 2: Fred and Rodri duel key to derby dominance
Part 3: Cherries can copy Watford's winning formula at Liverpool

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