Luton Town 3-1 Aston Villa: Five things we learned

Aston Villa manager Roberto Di Matteo

Another defeat for Aston Villa saw in two defeats in two for new manager Roberto Di Matteo which will no doubt add more pressure on the Italian.

Luton Town's Pelly Ruddock in actionLuton Town's Pelly Ruddock in action

Luton Town caused the cup shock of the round against Championship side Aston Villa but what did we learn from the encounter at Kenilworth Road?


Di Matteo selection says it all

An opening day defeat at Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday wasn't in the Di Matteo script, so the selection for the tie said it all in terms of how the former Chelsea manager saw the importance of a good start. 


Judging by the players picked in the Luton encounter he understands life with a number of defeats as manager will already leave him with a battle on his hands, not only with the players and board but also with fans who will expect no more than promotion this term.

Wins breed confidence regardless whether it's against Luton Town or Manchester United the need for momentum at Villa Park is crucial and results like tonight will certainly not help.

Aston Villa manager Roberto Di Matteo

Ball winning midfielder missing
They have technicians on the ball who like to play, which will more that suit the Roberto Di Matteo playing style, but are Villa missing a ball winning midfielder who can disposes opponents?

The trio of Aaron Tshibola, Kieran Westwood and Gary Gardner are can look composed and assured on the ball, but none of the three excel at regaining possession quickly which could be something they miss.

We saw the effect N'Golo Kante had at Leicester City last term by retrieving the ball back to set up counter attacks for the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Mark Albrighton and Jamie Vardy to exploit gaps in behind. With the attacking players Di Matteo has at his disposal with Jack Grealish, Andre Green, Jordan Ayew, Ross McCormack and Leandro Bacuna they all possess pace and with the quality they have it could be a component they need to get the best out of these players.

Grealish ineffective on the wing
After the first half display of Jack Grealish at Kenilworth Road it's clear to see the midfielder is more happy in the middle whether that be slightly deeper or behind the striker. 

Di Matteo opted to start the midfielder on the left hand side, however Grealish seemed to peter in and out of the half.

In the number ten role he has the ability to play on the half turn and run directly at the defence, whereas on the wing he can go be easily marked or doubled up with the winger tracking back.

The England youth international featured for for Gareth Southgate in the Toulon tournament in the summer and seemed to see the Grealish of old when he first burst onto the scene under Tim Sherwood, similar first half performances will surely have to prompt Di Matteo to try him more centrally.

Aston Villa's Jack Grealish in action

Less dead wood, more Elphicks at the back
They couldn't stop conceding goals all last season and it seems as though it's followed them into this campaign, the inability to ride over mounting pressure must give concern to the manager. 

Countless times throughout the second half especially saw The Hatters carve out the Villa defence whether that be down the middle or round the back, it's clear to see a natural leader is lacking in the Clarets back line if Tommy Elphick isn't present.

Micah Richards and Jores Okore were exposed so the need for Elphick's voice, guidance and experience is crucial if the club have hope of returning to the Premier League. 

Luton aggression and boldness pays dividends
The first half saw Nathan Jones' side tentative and shy however the second 45 minutes saw a complete change in approach from the League 2 outfit which exposed Villa's weaknesses. 

The Hatters seemed to be more brave and open to risk in the second exchanges, which saw their pressing more calculated and assured with everyone knowing their jobs. The pleasing aspect for Jones will be when they won the ball back they were positive with their first thought looking to be ruthless as well as being composed and confident to find the next pass.

The midfield diamond worked well with former Chelsea and Norwich City youth product Cameron McGeehan pressing at every opportunity on the two deep lying midfielders Tshibola and Gardner which stopped their supply into Gestede and the other forward players. 

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