Search icon


14th Dec 2016

Loris Karius and five other ‘keepers have better passing stats than this Aston Villa midfielder

That's just in the last week

Conan Doherty

There’s ineffective and then there’s Ashley Westwood.

These players are in every club – two of them used to be at Villa but Tom Cleverley has since upgraded to stand around Everton doing nothing instead.

It’s not that they’re particularly terrible footballers – it’s just that they’re afraid to play football, which doesn’t exactly help when you’re a footballer.

They get picked every week though because they don’t make any major cock-ups. A lot of managers are happy to throw boys onto their teams in the knowledge that they won’t cost them the game. They won’t help at all but most our predispositions is to be cautious and not balls the thing up first and foremost.

So Paul Lambert plucked someone like Ashley Westwood from God knows where and planted him into the heart of the Aston Villa team. Tim Sherwood came along and did the same. So did Roberto Di Matteo. Steve Bruce is flirting back and forward with the idea and, all the while, Villa fans are tearing their hair out asking how and why.

Let’s get it straight, this man can kick a ball, he just won’t. He hides from it. He never presents himself as an option and, the rare times he’s forced to actually take possession, he either rolls it five metres to the next man or simply lumps it away or loses it.

As central midfielders go, Ashley Westwood is as anonymous as they come.

Now, Villa are playing at a grade below and their heartbeat couldn’t be less interested. Against Norwich on Tuesday night, they lined up with a frightening front four that would be the envy of any Championship team. Top scorer Jonathan Kodjia played with Jack Grealish and Jordan Ayew behind Gabby Agbonlahor.

They were quickly made redundant though because their supply line wasn’t pumping. It was running scared.

In 93 minutes, Ashley Westwood completed 18 passes against Norwich.

Five of those passes even went forwards.

This is a central midfielder, playing in one of the biggest clubs in the league, on one of the teams with the best personnel and he’s stringing together 18 passes for 93 minutes of work.

In an era where men like Xavi has hit heights of almost 180 passes, Westwood is offering 10 times less in the Championship. Paul McShane actually completed 101 more passes than him on Tuesday night.

In fairness, Westwood managed one tackle and one interception too.

But it’s not just defenders that are embarrassing him when it comes to passing stats, in the last week alone, six Premier League goalkeepers have completed more passes than the man at the hub of the action for Villa.

Goalkeepers’ pass completions in the last week:

Hugo Lloris (v United) – 24
Thibaut Courtois (v West Brom) – 22
Loris Karius (v West Ham) – 21
Victor Valdes (v Southampton) – 21
Claudio Bravo (v Leicester) – 21
Jordan Pickford (v Swansea) – 19
Artur Boric (v Burnley) – 18

Ashley Westwood made 18. Against Norwich. From midfield. In 93 minutes.

In real life.

Catch up with the latest episode of Football Friday Live: