Villa Park

Next Game

A Villa v Tottenham

Sunday, 02 November 2014, 16:00

Barclays Prem

Loftus Road Stadium

Last Game

QPR 2 - 0 A Villa

Monday, 27 October 2014, 20:00

Barclays Prem

Bennett this season's Villan

Aston Villa FanZoner Tom Davis reflects on what has been a difficult first season at the club for defender Joe Bennett.

Last Updated: 08/05/13 at 11:50 Post Comment

Joe Bennett: The culprit for Villa's defensive woes

Joe Bennett: The culprit for Villa's defensive woes

More of the games that matter

Watch Manchester City v Manchester United live only on Sky Sports this Super Sunday. Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

There are some roles in football that never change. The striker at the tip of the triangle is there to score goals just as much as the goalkeeper down at the bottom is there to prevent them. Yet full-backs are a completely different animal.

From being the sturdy and reliable engine to track back and forth at the back, they now require the sort of qualities the number nine up-front can't even master in training. However, in a season where defensive errors have often been our downfall, one player has caused us more grief than joy - and isn't it time we put an end to this misery?

Bennett is obviously the culprit here. It's a telling sign of his ability that this piece was written before his error against Norwich and not after, as he has a mistake waiting in him for almost every game. If it wasn't for Gabriel Agbonlahor's goals we would have dropped two valuable points. It could have even been enough to see us drop down a league as a consequence.

But it wasn't just against Norwich that he let us down.

He has made a collection of mistakes time and time again. Lambert's philosophy has required full-backs with a burning ambition to attack, particularly given our lack of an orthodox out-and-out winger. Yet, and forgive me for sounding old fashioned here, when I see four defenders in the back-line the first thing I want them to do is defend - and Gordon Bennett, he simply does not know the meaning of the word!

You could point to full-backs all around the top European leagues and argue that the traditional number threes are a dying breed - Marcelo, Phillip Lahm and Ashley Cole being prime examples of what a modern-day full-back can bring to the table.

Take it down a notch and Matt Lowton's performances this season have nailed almost every desire you could want from a full-back down to a tee. Bennett could go a long way in learning from his style. But then again an attacking full-back is only a bonus if they can defend in the first place. If they can't do the latter then you have to raise questions on their inclusion in the squad. Unfortunately for Bennett, he falls into this category.

He can be infuriating at times. "Kick him! Punch him! Stand up...do something!" the crowd collectively screams as he offers the opposing winger enough time on the ball to stop and tie his shoe-laces twice over. For all his bright play surging forward, his demeanour is so fragile in defence you can almost feel him flaking away at the very sight of a quick pair of feet - or even a slow pair for that matter.

Lowton's stature isn't much greater, but his aggression and commitment to a challenge - not to mention his positional sense and decision making - already places him far further in the pecking order, despite coming from relatively similar backgrounds. He now has a real chance to build on this season and establish himself as an England international.

Bennett is a talented player when given freedom on the ball and you can't help but want him to succeed at the club. But as a full-back? It'll never work. In a defence that has conceded the third highest number of goals in the league this season, defensive reinforcements are surely a priority for us in the summer and the left-back position should be high on our list. He is simply not good enough and that is not a difficult assumption to make.

You could give him the benefit of the doubt and say at 23 he still has time to develop, but if a defender struggles to master the art of defending now then what hope does he have in the future? I can't help but feel he would be better off shaping his role towards becoming a wide-midfielder. With his sweet left-foot, direct runs and pin-point crossing ability he could easily emulate his fellow Middlesbrough graduate, Stewart Downing. Oh wait, Stewart who? Forget you heard that name!

By Tom Davis, FanZone's Aston Villa blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @tomdav1991 - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too!

TEAMtalk Facebook Fan Page

The TEAMtalk fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

H

e might be on a hiding to nothing, but I cannae feel any sympathy- You want to know why? Shakira. That's why.

hairpolice
Pique Taking Blame Burden Again...

A

nd this season must feel like one long sigh at the Emirates . Yep, exactly that. Except for Alexis Sanchez, he's ace.

cheshire-gooner
Is Mario Balotelli's Talent Even That 'Obvious'?

H

ey! At least put our first clean sheet in a gazillion years in the winners section. Curse you F365 *shakes fist*

fouloleron
Is Mario Balotelli's Talent Even That 'Obvious'?

Footer 365

Real Madrid and Spain legend Raul joins New York Cosmos

Real Madrid legend Raul has agreed a deal with North American Soccer League side New York Cosmos.

Championship Chat: Owner hurting Leeds

James Dixon calls for Leeds owner Massimo Cellino to stop interfering in the club and also blasts the heads of Birmingham and Blackpool.

Transfer News: Hull's Tom Ince joins Nottingham Forest on loan until December 28

Nottingham Forest have signed Tom Ince on loan from Hull City on a deal until December 28.

Mail Box

'Pride' Didn't Stop Wenger Signing Flamini

Arsene Wenger's 'pride' in signings is quite rightly pulled apart. We also have a stupidly long email on going back, and one Mailboxer whooping about the FA Cup first round...

Wenger Kept His Pride By Turning Down Cesc

What message would it have sent if Wenger had allowed those that walked out to stroll back in? Plus, why Pochettino needs to adapt and the folly of limiting yourself...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property