Aston Villa are facing a serious fight to avoid relegation back to the Championship. Dean Smith’s men are just a point clear of the bottom three and must dig deep during their last 12 fixtures.
After playing so well for half-an-hour against Tottenham on Sunday, a stoppage-time goal from Heung Son-min ensured the Villans received nothing for their efforts.
Their performance in the 3-2 defeat was valiant but in reality, Smith’s charges should have been out of sight before half time. They were left to rue their wasted opportunities when Son pounced at the death.
Team selection is going to prove vital during the coming months and Smith can ill-afford any more mistakes. One area in particular that looked a cause for concern on Sunday was in midfield.
Danny Drinkwater has arrived on loan from Chelsea and the fact he is badly out of sorts, makes him everything that Villa don’t need given their current predicament.
The man who won the Premier League with Leicester City has badly lost his way. Drinkwater earns £100,000-a-week at Chelsea these days and in four games for Villa, he has looked short on confidence.
On the bench on Sunday, the Villans had Conor Hourihane. With John McGinn currently injured, the Republic of Ireland man would be the ideal partner for Douglas Luiz.
The 29-year-old left-footer has scored seven times this season, registering two assists from his 22 outings for Villa.
Smith hasn’t got time for players to settle into his side and he needs fighters; players willing to roll up their sleeves and fight for Premier League survival.
Hourihane has rarely let Villa down during his time at the club. Last season he scored nine goals and claimed 12 assists as Smith’s team clinched promotion via the play-offs.
The £3 million man might not have had the career and won the medals that Drinkwater has collected, but right now he’s a safer bet in Smith’s midfield.
Villa travel to Southampton this weekend and they could desperately do with a win. Smith need to seriously consider dropping Drinkwater, with Hourihane more befitting of what the team needs right now.