The curious case of Bjorn Engels: half of the center of Aston Villa, which has gone missing.
The great Belgian started the new season as one of the first names on Dean Smith’s team sheet – but now he’s not close.
Engels, 25, made a consecutive start after consecutive start with Tyrone Mings before being hit by a disease attack before Watford on December 28th.
The central defender appeared in the Premier League in Villa’s 3-1 defeat against Southampton on December 21, when Shane Long made it appear that the summer signs were going through a strike course after the Irishman escaped before the devastating launch of Danny Ings.
Engels, meanwhile, returned to the fold for Fulham in the FA Cup with fellow skipper James Chester in the center of the full back, which was, in fact, the last time Smith played a back with four.
Since then, the coach has gone with his now favorite 3-4-3 formation and has been full of praise for his three shoulders of Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings and Kortney Hause.
Smith, a former central defender himself, loves a stiff rear line and seems to have a vision of the DOC on how he wants to deploy his defense: a right foot that plays on the right side and vice versa with a left footer.
His previous three performed admirably by Burnley on New Years Day, with the only exception being that the 6-1 hammered at Manchester City.
Smith sees Mings as the colossal leader chosen to field defense from the center, with “external defenders” Konsa and Hause tasked with being more adventurous, advancing while fueling the likes of Jack Grealish and Villa’s shoulders. Smith is believed to have taken a look at Sheffield United’s extensive back-three mantra, with Chris Wilder always begging Chris Basham and Jack O’Connell to advance.
In terms of Engels’ situation, however, the £ 7.2 million summer catch has not yet been played in three against Smith, while it remains to be seen whether the coach trusts the tall defender to play as one of his next external defenders. to Mings. Since he is a right footer, then Engels’ direct competition for a starting place is Konsa who hit the late Villa winner at home – with the help of Mings – against Watford.
Engels could, for example, play where Mings is playing, in the middle of a back three. The 6-foot-4-inch central defender is good on the floor and reads the game well, but Smith likes that Mings can dictate where he is in the center. It is incredibly unlikely that the England defender will move to the left side of Villa three’s back in place of the hot and cold Kortney Hause.
“Bjorn is fine,” Smith explained when asked if there had been a problem with Engels. “I just put Chezzy on the bench. We have five excellent central defenders within the team, so he did some extra training in Bodymoor with Jota.”
Engels has since released a snapshot of him 400 miles away on vacation south of Reims, the club from which he entered Aston Villa in the summer. He has not been part of a Premier League team for one day in Norwich on Boxing Day, while he was again excluded from the team on Tuesday evening.
The Villa, however, started today and will return tomorrow and Friday as preparations go up ahead of Tuesday’s important Carabao Cup semi-final against Leicester City on Tuesday. Engels is expected to be in contention but, given a seven-day hiatus from match-related issues, Smith may very well sided with his three from Konsa, Mings and Hause.
As for Engels, it will be a waiting game for the next few weeks. However, he must be ready to enter if another cruel injury should occur. In summary, Konsa is much faster than Engels and Smith prefers the first to play as a central defender from the right. The only way back for Kaprijke’s man is if Hause’s form withers, therefore Smith could operate a third of Konsa, Engels and Mings, being Mings on the left side.