One of Aston Villa’s biggest strengths looks set to get even better – opinion

This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more… 

Last Tuesday evening, Aston Villa completed yet another signing.

It’s been a busy summer at Villa Park and after confirming the addition of Bjorn Engels, it signalled their fourth foray into the market for a central defender.

The Belgian has arrived from Reims in Ligue 1 for an undisclosed fee and arrives, so he claims, with the offering of being a threat at set-pieces.

With that in mind, it appears as though he could be equally as important in attack, as he could be in defence.

On the chalkboard

One of Villa’s greatest strengths last season was their danger from set-pieces. In the Championship, they scored 24 goals from dead-ball situations, the joint-most of anyone in the division.

However, that plus point could be about to get even better if Engels has anything to say about it.

In his first interview with the club after signing last week, he told the club’s website about his strengths, saying the following:

“I like to play from out of the back. I like to play football. I’m also good in duels and can be a threat at set-pieces.”

The 24-year-old may only have netted one goal last term but it did come from a set-piece and he has already amassed seven goals from headers throughout his career.

When in Belgium, he scored 11 times 57 matches in total, and despite only finding the net on a solitary occasion for Reims, it’s hard to ignore the impact he could have in set-piece situations for the Villans.

Per Understat, he managed six shots on goal from corners, whilst having a further three attempts from corners in 2018/19. That is demonstrated below.

It may not look like a lot but it shows the sorts of positions he gets into.

Rather than getting close to the goalkeeper, it appears as though Engels drifts in and around the penalty spot which gives an idea of where Villa’s set plays may be aimed next term.

But to further substantiate his threat from these scenarios, he managed to create five chances for other teammates from balls that were played into the box throughout his time with Reims.

This specific aspect of Engels’ game bodes well, particularly if you take into account Villa’s threat last season.

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