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Help Focusing/Balancing Attack

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I am playing my first season using Aston Villa and am hoping to get some assistance in improving my team's attack. Defensively we've been solid only conceding 5 goals in 7 EPL matches against tough competition including Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. The strength of competition obviously works both ways but the attack has been pretty stagnant even against weaker competition. 5 of our 9 goals have come from penalties and free kicks. I'm worried our luck is going to run out and the results are going to start going against us when we aren't drawing as many fouls.

This is the tactic I'm currently using:


Mentality is Counter and Shape is Flexible. The only TI I'm using is More Direct Passing.

The biggest issue I've noticed in attacking is that my full backs aren't linking up with my forward players and haven't really been contributing offensively. I started with WB's but switched to CWB's to try to get them more involved but there still seems to be a big gap between my CWB's and IF's.

My specific questions are:

1) Should I consider moving my defensive line higher to decrease the gap between my full backs and IF's? If I do move the defensive line higher is there anything I can do to counteract the additional risk defensively?

2) Are the roles I selected for CM and ST discouraging my team from wide play? I am expecting the attack to focus on Benteke and Delph but there has been open space on the wings we're not taking advantage of so I would like to see more balance.

3) Benteke just came back from injury. I haven't really seen how he will fit into this tactic yet but any suggestions on how to best utilize him would be helpful.

4) One of my board goals is Direct Football and the status is currently "We have seen signs but it would be a disappointment if it doesn't improve". I've been using the More Direct Passing TI since day 1 so I'm not sure what else I can do short of using Go Route One.

Any other comments/criticisms of my tactic are appreciated.

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Counter will have low tempo as default and low tempo in combination with more direct passing can be quite easy to defend against. It is no surprise that you are defensively stable, but struggle to score a lot of goals as that is what the main purpose of Counter mentality. (Even if it can be tweaked with TIs to suit different strategies)

I Would suggest to try higher tempo and see if that helps your scoring problem. I have not had much success with direct tactics personally, but the closest I got was actually a Villa-save where I utilized an attacking mentality, direct tactic. (which is another approach you can consider)

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you ask you team to hoof it long, but whom to? Benteke should be a great target man (attack duty to keep him high up the pitch) to produce lay-offs to your runners from deep, that alone might help a fair bit.

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Thanks for the suggestions guys. I added the Higher Tempo and Push Higher Up TI's. I had good results in my first match but will need to play a few more to see how well it works. I think one of my other issues is a few of my regulars have runs with ball or dwells on ball PPM's so they are holding the ball too long and turning it over. I'm hoping the higher tempo helps with this as well. I made one other tweak in my lineup switching the AMR to a raumdeuter and have been using Andi Weimann instead of Agbonlahor. Weimann scored in my first match on an assist from Benteke so will stick with this for a few to see how well it works.

In regards to Benteke, he's only been back for a few matches but I've found with CF(S) he operates similar to a target man. He has the plays with back to goal PPM which probably helps.

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So even with the new TI's the team still wasn't playing like I wanted. My goal in starting was a strong defensive tactic with attack focused around my best players (Benteke, Grealish and Delph). At the midway point in the season the following problems were obvious:

- I wasn't scoring consistently

- Most of my assists were coming from my B2B midfielder who was not intended to be the focus of my attack

- Benteke wasn't getting supplied in dangerous positions

- Grealish was mostly neutralized (0 goals and 2 assists in 18 apps)

- Advanced Playmaker was the wrong role for Delph. With his dwells on the ball PPM he was seeing a lot of the ball but bogged down the attack by holding it too long and losing possession

- I was losing possession too frequently during the transition from defense to midfield

I've been reading a lot of advice threads over the past few days and borrowing heavily from some of the tactics posted I came up with this:


My Mentality is still Counter and Shape still Flexible. My TI's are More Direct Passing, Push Higher Up and Higher Tempo

My thought process for the changes:

- I changed the DM to a DLP instead of HB to help improve our transition from defense to midfield. I have Samper on loan from Barcelona and he is perfectly suited for this role. I can still use Carlos Sanchez here as well for matches where I want a little more defensive cover

- I changed the LCM role to a more generic CM(S) role so Delph would be less of an attacking focus

- I changed the IF to a Raumdeuter. I'm hoping this position can provide an alternate source of goals to Benteke

- I made Grealish an AP(A) so he would see more of the ball and hopefully provide the supply that Benteke needs

I've only played 2 matches so far but have been thrilled with the results. I won 2-0 at home vs Liverpool and 3-2 at Chelsea. Benteke had 3 goals and 1 assist while Grealish had 2 goals, 2 assists and back to back PoM awards. The spacing, support and supply all seemed to click when we were attacking in these matches. I think the support roles in CM helped tremendously in this regard. The only thing I may still tweak is to swap the CM roles as the B2B seems to get a little further forward and Grealish cuts inside a lot so they have gotten in each others way a couple times.

I'm excited to see how this tactic performs over a larger smaple size. Thanks to all who have posted advice on these forums. Cleon, RTHerringbone and rashid1's posts were particularly helpful.

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