Former Arsenal star highlights Aston Villa’s major improvement under Sherwood

Aston Villa beat Liverpool 2-1 to set up an FA Cup final date with BBC pundit Martin Keown’s former club Arsenal.

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown told the BBC that Aston Villa move the ball much quicker now than what they did before Tim Sherwood took over the reins at Villa Park.

The former Tottenham Hotspur boss was appointed as Villa’s new manager midway through February, and subsequent results have clearly improved.

In eight Premier League matches, the West Midlands side have picked up three victories which has lifted them up to 15th in the table, four points clear of the drop zone.

Sherwood’s biggest accomplishment to date, however, took place at Wembley on Sunday afternoon as his side masterminded a remarkable 2-1 FA Cup semi-final victory over favourites Liverpool.

It was no fluke as Villa dominated their opponents for long periods, prompting BBC pundit Martin Keown to highlight how impressed he was with their speed and thought in possession.

"Before Tim Sherwood came here there was a lack of spark and ambition about Villa. You can't say that any more. They move the ball so much quicker now and they are full of confidence,” he explained.

  Total Passes per GameAccurate Passes per GameFwd Passes per GameKey Passes per GameAppearances
Aston Villa [Lambert] 430.48 342.48 155.64 7.56 25
Aston Villa [Sherwood] 403.75 298.5 163 8.63 8

As per the table provided by Opta Stats, the difference in passing has changed quite dramatically since Sherwood took over and is explained based on their Premier League encounters.

Villa don’t play as many passes as they did under Paul Lambert, but they do get the ball forward more often nowadays which helps involve key player Christian Benteke.

The Belgian international’s stunning goal record under Sherwood is no coincidence. It has come as a result of his teammates picking him out more and utilising his strengths.

Against the Merseysiders yesterday, the former Genk man dominated the Reds defence from the offset, and his brilliant hold-up play allowed the Villa midfield to gain control and assert their dominance.

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