Aston Villa playmaker Carles Gil shows why he will be crucial to Remi Garde's plans

The 22-year-old Spaniard produced an encouraging display in Sunday's 0-0 draw with Manchester City after being brought back into the line-up for the new manager's first match in charge.

The Remi Garde era at Aston Villa got off to a positive start on Sunday, as the former Lyon manager’s first game in charge of the club saw them hold Premier League leaders Manchester City to a 0-0 home draw.

The new boss made six changes to the side that lost 3-1 at Tottenham Hotspur last Monday evening under caretaker Kevin MacDonald, with all four of the summer signings from Ligue 1 coming into the line-up.

Skipper Micah Richards also returned to the starting XI to face his old club at Joleon Lescott’s expense after serving a one-match suspension for a misconduct charge, but the change that Villa fans were arguably most excited to see was the inclusion of Carles Gil.

The Spanish playmaker, who joined the club from Valencia last January, struggled to get a regular run of games under Tim Sherwood and has been in and out of the line-up this term after picking up a knock during pre-season.

Nevertheless, he has shown plenty of flashes of brilliance when given the opportunity to prove his worth, including an excellent 25-minute showing off the bench against Spurs with Garde watching on from the stands, and that was enough to earn him a start for the Frenchman’s first match in charge.

Positioned on the right wing in a 4-1-4-1 formation, the 22-year-old midfielder immediately went about showing why he needs to be one of the first names on the teamsheet moving forward, as he always looked dangerous on the ball and was consistently instrumental in Villa’s build-up play with his precise passing and movement.

He was eventually replaced by Charles N’Zogbia with 25 minutes left after noticeably tiring during the second half but his impact for the hosts was clear to see in the statistics he put up over the course of his run-out.

 Vs Man City Total ShotsKey PassesTotal PassesPassing AccuracyTotal DribblesSuccessful DribblesDuels WonDuel SuccessTouchesDispossessedBall RecoveriesMins Played
Carles Gil 1 1 46 96% 4 3 8 72.73% 59 0 4 65

The skilful attacker only misplaced two passes during his 65th-minute spell, and while he was not on the pitch for as long as the majority of his teammates, his 46 passes were still the fourth most amount among Villa players.

In addition, the former Under-21 international completed four of his three dribbles and won eight of his 11 duels, while also creating a chance for Idrissa Gana in the first half, when the Senegalese midfielder shot high and wide after receiving his teammate’s smart pass on the edge of the box.

City ultimately proved too tough for Villa to break down on the afternoon but they will obviously face more penetrable defences going forward, and given Gil’s display against the league leaders, one would imagine that he will be at the front and centre of new boss Garde’s plans.

The club still sit bottom of the league with just five points from 12 games – five points adrift of 17th-placed Newcastle United, and if they want to escape the drop then the diminutive’s Spaniard’s creativity will be much-needed.

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