Jamie Carragher highlights main reason for Aston Villa's revival under Tim Sherwood

Benteke 2

The former Liverpool defender believes the new Villa manager's decision to go with two up top has been vital to putting three straight wins on the board.

Former Liverpool defender and now-Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher has told Monday Night Football that Tim Sherwood’s decision to revert to a two-striker formation is the core reason for Aston Villa’s recent upturn in form.

Villa had scored just 12 goals in 25 Premier League games at the time of Paul Lambert’s sacking last month, contributing to a dismal run of two wins in 21 top-flight matches which had left them marred in the relegation zone.

The Scot had stuck to using Christian Benteke as a lone forward throughout his tenure, with Gabriel Agbonlahor shunted out onto the wing, but Sherwood has since opted to pair the two upfront together and the results have been clear for all to see.

The weekend’s emphatic 4-0 win at Sunderland saw both bag braces to lift Villa up to 16th in the table, with their performances on the afternoon as clear an indication as ever that the squad are responding to their new boss’s methods.

Sherwood had claimed after beating West Brom 2-1 in the first meeting of their recent doubleheader that Benteke and Agbonlahor were the best strike-pairing outside the league’s top-six and, while a few dismissed that statement at the time, Carragher thinks now that he just might be right.

“The one way to describe Villa over the last three or four years, and I think even the fans would use it, is that you were just bored watching them,” he said.

“But the big thing he’s [Sherwood’s] done is go with a front two and he’s keeping them right up front – something that not many teams do.

“Sherwood said that, outside the top six, they were the Premier League’s best front two. People raised their eyebrows but what he’s done in the past three games is made you believe that.

“Normally, on a team one of the strikers would be told to drop in on the opposition’s holding midfield player but they’re deliberately not doing it,” he continued.

“He’s said, ‘I’ll go with eight players defending and leave those two up front, two versus two.’ – He’s taking a chance and being brace, and it’s paid off for them.

“Teams coming up against Aston Villa now may have to play a back three because you don’t want to leave those two up against two defenders.

“I don’t think even the best defenders in the league could cope with them.”

Carragher also singled out Sherwood’s decision to bring Charles N’Zogbia back into the side for particular praise, believing the polarising Frenchman has been revived in the team’s new setup.

“He’s also brought in N’Zogbia, who’s had a huge effect. He was outstanding at the weekend,” the ex-England international said.

“He’s another one re-energized. He can into the team for Westwood and has shown his positivity.”

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