Opinion

Who Will Lead the Line for Aston Villa this Season?

Scoring goals was never a problem last season at Villa Park with the team being the Championship’s third highest scorers, but out of the three main strikers at Aston Villa, who should be the first-choice striker? With Ross McCormack likely to leave and Hepburn-Murphy still on the fringes, the debate is out of Jonathan Kodjia, Scott Hogan and Keinan Davis, and each player has their strengths and reasons as to why it could be them leading the Aston Villa line.

The Contenders to Lead the Line for Aston Villa

First up is the 19-goal man from our debut Championship campaign, Jonathan Kodjia, and he is probably in the best position to be Bruce’s first choice striker next season. The most complete striker of the three, Kodjia had a disappointing season last campaign, scoring just one goal in a season that was destroyed by an ankle injury sustained in the latter stages of the 2016/17 campaign. Therefore it is a little misleading to look at his stats from last season, but his 19 goals from that debut season almost instantly put him at the front of the queue. In the 2017/18 season, the 28 year old also managed three assists from his 18 Championship appearances, but the majority of those games were as a second half substitute so again they are slightly unfair. Kodjia is however a very creative player, and his 27 successful dribbles highlight that he can make his own chances and doesn’t have to rely on too much service in terms of crosses or through balls. A strong dribbler, a powerful athlete and a deadly finisher, Kodjia has a very good shout to be Bruce’s main striker next season.

Next up is Scott Hogan, the man who still hasn’t nailed a place down in the starting 11, despite him looking odds on to lead our line throughout most of last season when Kodjia picked up his injury. In comparison to the season before, last season was successful for Hogan, but it is still nowhere near the targets he sets himself. Nine goals in all competitions with six in the Championship isn’t bad going for a man mainly used as a substitute, but five of them came in five games, so in a season where he made 38 league appearances, it is a disappointing tally. In 20 games more, Hogan completed five less dribbles than Kodjia and averaged a measly 23 touches per game compared to Kodjia’s 40 touches per game. We know Hogan can finish, as he proved it at Brentford, but he doesn’t seem to get the opportunities to score in this Aston Villa side. If he took penalties we could be looking at a 15-goal season, but as he struggles to get into games and doesn’t seem to offer as much as Kodjia, Hogan isn’t likely to be Bruce’s starting centre forward in August.

Finally, Keinan Davis. The young player of the season really announced himself last season and was a fan favourite at the start of the campaign. His hold up play was as good as anyone’s and his link up play generally looked quite promising. However he fell out of favour in the second half of the season and didn’t even make the bench for the Play Off Final with Lewis Grabban knocking everyone down the pecking order. But Davis’ two powerful headers away at Barnsley and Burton were promising signs and while it is unlikely he will be starting many games next season with the other two men ahead of him, he can definitely have an impact and upset defences. His dribbling seems to be deceivingly difficult to stop and he can always bully a centre back around, but his finishing looks worryingly poor for a striker so Bruce will always favour Kodjia or Hogan ahead of the 20 year old. One assist in 30 games isn’t really good enough for a striker either, especially one who doesn’t score often, so while he will have a part to play next season, it’s hard to see him get a starting spot when all three options are available.

Words by Matt Blogg (@Blogg_Matt) // Follow us on Twitter (@claretandview)

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