Aston Villa were without Jack Grealish for the first league game in 15 months yesterday.
They lost 2-1 at Villa Park against Leicester, failing to recover from an early onslaught.
Villa clearly missed Grealish’s creativity but Alan Shearer in the Match of the Day 2 studio spotted another problem.
He said Villa’s midfield were far too open, and former Villa striker Dion Dublin agreed with him.
“The lack of protection in front of the back four was alarming,” said Shearer.
“(Ricardo Pereira could) take the ball, turn and have a shot here. You can’t give players of the quality of James Maddison this amount of time, space and freedom without putting any pressure on the ball.
“Not once with him running over the halfway line, towards the 18-yard box is there anyone within ten to 15 yards of him. You just can’t give that much time and space to him.”
Dublin added: “It happened time and time again. It happened all through the game. Barkley and McGinn can see Tielemans but allow him to run between them. You have to change positions.”
Villa have improved hugely defensively this season and the opening period of the game was not good enough by their standards.
Matty Cash was also absent and that seemed to have an impact on the back four as well.
Coping with injuries is part of the challenge, especially during this frantic season.
Even when Grealish comes back, Villa cannot afford to be as accommodating in midfield as they were here.
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