Reason for optimism? Villa showing improvement even on losing run

Aston Villa have shown improvements in some areas, despite their poor form of late.

Aston Villa's season can already be separated into two halves.

Over the first four games the side were unbeaten, as they even went to Anfield and picked up a 1-0 win against Liverpool. 

However, the initial optimism that this opening to the campaign created is already starting to dwindle.

The club handed Paul Lambert a new long-term contract after the excellent start they made, but they may be beginning to regret that decision.

Since extending the Scot's deal, the Claret and Blue have lost their last five games, conceding 13 goals without response.

It is an alarming run of form, but they have actually shown improvements in some areas during their struggles.

  MatchGoalsGoals ConcededShots per gameShots against per gameTackles per gamePasses per gamePassing AccuracyPossession Percentage
Aston Villa Others 4 1 8.25 10.5 15.25 332.25 72.4% 36.25
Aston Villa Last 5 games 0 13 8.8 12.8 14.4 413.2 79.4% 40.2

Villa had great success playing on the back-foot in their first four games of the campaign. They were happy to soak up pressure and hit their opponents on the counter, showing ruthless precision on their attack.

It is a style which clearly worked for a period of time, but playing defensive football for entire season is unlikely to ever be successful. 

Over the past few games, Lambert has realised the necessity for his team to start showing more attacking flair, but the worry is that he is the wrong man to instill this mentality into the team.

Villa's passing has improved considerably of late and they are also creating far more shooting opportunities than they were at the start of the year, even if they are not hitting the back of the net as regularly. 

However, this has been at the expense of their solidarity. Oppositions teams are now having over two shots a game more against them, whilst they are also noticeably down on the amount of tackles there are making per match.

The fact that they have improved and still not sent any results, though, has to be a worry.

There is only so much more this current Villa side can progress under Lambert and question marks over whether he is getting the best out of this team are starting to emerge.

With the increased pressure on the team and Villa Park growing more and more frustrated their weekend fixture against Tottenham Hotspur carries a huge importance to which direction this season will go. 

Spurs, themselves, have struggled of late but they have the quality to hurt Villa if they continue to be so open.

Lambert's men will be boosted by the fact that Christian Benteke is fit and available again, but he looks like he will need time to adjust after coming back from a lengthy injury.

It will be up to the rest of the squad to show that they can show some attacking intent, even without their main striker on form, if they are to break out of this slump.

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