Coming off a much needed win, with a difficult opponent on the weekend, Villarreal is much more beat up than they’d like to be. We already had Alberto Moreno out for months- that inspired the purchase of Pervis Estupinan. Now Estupinan has rolled his ankle and is in doubt for selection Sunday. In addition, Alfonso Pedraza has little hope of facing Atleti, nor does Ruben Pena, and Francis Coquelin will still be out for several weeks (probably the rest of the month).
There has been a positive out of this, which is that the club has now seen how effective Iborra and Parejo can play together, but as things currently stand we could be looking at facing Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid with Jaume Costa and Mario Gaspar as our starting fullbacks and frankly I just don’t love that.
Tactically speaking, we ought to be set up well for the trip to the Wanda. We just saw what our three man midfield can do against a 442, and while Atleti has much more quality than Alaves some of the principles from our win yesterday should transfer over. We should be able to control possession and limit opposition chances. However, accomplishing this will be much more difficult if we are down to our fourth choice left back (even if he is a very experienced one).
The saving grace here is that this is our last match before a two week international break. Hopefully in that time we can get a lot of these injuries healed and ready to go, and perhaps we’ll even see a defender added before the transfer window closes that will then have time to work his way into Emery’s system before the derby on the 18th. At any rate, pretty soon midweek matches will become a very regular occurrence for this side, so we need to get healthy as soon as possible.