Aston Villa have lost their last two games in the Premier League.
Dean Smith’s side were beaten 2-1 at the London Stadium by West Ham United on Monday night – their fourth loss of the season.
The weekend before, Villa lost to Brighton, and Smith has some work to do to get things back on track.
VAR has played a crucial role in the two defeats, but arguably, there is another thing that has really stung Smith’s side.
Ross Barkley had to go off after just five minutes against the Seagulls due to his hamstring problem, and his absence for the rest of that game, and against the Hammers yesterday, was felt.
In his first five games, £96,000-a-week star Barkley (Spotrac) was in fine fettle, striking up a superb partnership with Jack Grealish and Ollie Watkins.
In his time at Villa so far, he’s been extremely positive with the ball, operating between the lines and looking to make things happen on the half-turn.
While the past couple of games have seen Villa create chances, there has been that lack of a driving force Barkley is known for – his goal against Leicester City being a perfect example.
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Sometimes in football, a team can create a host of chances without any luck.
That is why it is good to have someone who can be a threat from longer distances, especially when the opposition is putting men behind the ball to sustain pressure.
When working an opening proves too difficult, having someone who can shoot from distance or drive through a defence is ideal, and it seems Villa are missing Barkley for those things.