Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Whelan Reckons Aston Villa Midfielder Could Spearhead Top-Six Push: Is He Right In His Assessment?

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Abhinab Ghosh
A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.

In a recent interview with Football Insider, ex-Leeds United forward Noel Whelan reckoned that Aston Villa midfielder Ross Barkley could spearhead a top-six push in the Premier League when he said, “Barkley is the perfect fit for Aston Villa, especially with Grealish there,

“Two very attacking midfield players who are very creative and forward-thinking.

“Barkley is a player that is always going to get himself into positions where he can score a goal. He has proved that time and time again in his career. A player that always carries a threat going forward. Very intelligent international player who is thriving right now.

“He is taking the opportunity to showcase his skills in a very strong Aston Villa side.

“It is amazing what difference a year can make. They were always good going forward but they now have a confidence and belief from back to front.

“I feel now that they have got a team strong enough to possibly challenge that top-six.”

Barkley’s Exceptional Start To His Loan Spell With The Villans

The English midfield ace has made a dream start to his loan spell at Villa Park after helping the Villans secure back to back wins over Liverpool and Leicester City in the Premier League. Barkley has already scored two goals in two matches for the West Midlands outfit this season and has done well to influence the game at both ends of the field.

Since joining Dean Smith’s side, the Liverpool-born playmaker has averaged 0.5 tackles, 1.5 interceptions, 0.5 clearances, 4.0 shots, 0.5 key passes and 2.0 dribbles per 90 minutes in the English top-flight. He has even distributed possession with conviction after making 87.7% of his attempted passes in league football (stats via whoscored).

Whelan reckons Aston Villa's Barkley could spearhead top-six push (Barkley is in action in the photo)
Ross Barkley of Villa in action during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Aston Villa at The King Power Stadium on October 18, 2020 in Leicester, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

If Barkley can continue to perform at such a high level, then he could potentially help the Villans challenge the Premier League’s ‘Top Six’ teams this season. However, two games are quite a small sample size, so it remains to be seen whether the English midfielder can maintain his high standards in the coming months when the fixtures come thick and fast in English football.

What Are The 33-Time England International’s Best Attributes?

Barkley has a wide range of passes in his locker and is usually a composed dribbler with the ball from midfield. He tends to pull off a few driving runs towards the opponent’s penalty area and can strike the ball with a lot of power and precision from long range. Despite showing plenty of promising signs, the English midfielder has struggled to live up to his potential as he can be a bit inconsistent when lacking confidence on the pitch.

Is Whelan Right With His Assessment Of Barkley And Villa’s Top-Six Chances?

This Premier League season is only getting started, so it is too early to call whether Whelan is right with his assessment about Barkley inspiring a top-six finish for the Villans this season. For now, Smith should only focus on getting the best out of his players so that they are in a good position to hopefully challenge for a European spot towards the latter stages of this campaign.

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