Steve Bruce: Aston Villa manager says lack of goals is big problem
Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce admits that his struggling Championship team are suffering chiefly from a chronic shortage of goals.
Villa have scored just four times in a winless eight-game run since Boxing Day which has seen them plummet from play-off hopefuls to relegation worriers, seven points clear of danger in 16th.
"We've got to improve in what we do with the ball," Bruce told BBC WM.
"But the big problem is we don't score enough. That is our big Achilles heel."
Speaking after Saturday's 1-0 home defeat by Ipswich Town, he added: "One individual error cost us in a game we didn't deserve to lose. We're not scoring and we're getting punished at the other end."
Villa's woes in front of goal
- Villa have scored just 29 goals in 30 Championship games. Last season, they scored just 27 in 38 Premier League games.
- Only eight away goals scored in 16 games - the only Championship side not to have hit double figures on their travels this season.
- 21 of this season's 29 goals have come in front of their own fans, but only seven of the 23 other Championship sides have scored less at home.
- Jonathan Kodjia (10 in 22 games) is comfortably Villa's top scorer. He was badly missed while away for most of January at the Africa Cup of Nations. Of the next best, Rudy Gestede (four) was sold to Middlesbrough in January, while Ross McCormack (three) and Aaron Tshibola (one) were loaned to Nottingham Forest and Jordan Ayew (two) joined Swansea.
- Midfielders Albert Adomah and Jack Grealish have each scored three times, while Villa's only other three league goals this season have come from midfielder Gary Gardner and defenders Leandro Bacuna and Nathan Baker.
- On the plus side, Villa's defence is one of the meanest in the division. At home, they have conceded just 13 goals in 14 games - less than all but five Championship clubs. And, overall, only four have conceded less than their 33 in 30 matches.
How can Villa turn it round?
After an unbeaten seven-game run when Bruce first took over at Villa on 14 October, the club's season has fallen apart astonishingly since Christmas.
Bruce was allowed to make eight signings in the January window - on-loan Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, young Bury defender Jordan Bedeau, Swansea City's Wales international left-back Neil Taylor, Iceland international Birkir Bjarnason, Nottingham Forest midfielder Henri Lansbury, Barnsley duo Conor Hourihane and James Bree and Brentford striker Scott Hogan.
Ahead of Tuesday's home game against Hourihane and Bree's former club Barnsley, Bruce now needs them all to start knitting together.
"I've seen glimpses of them that they'll be ok," said the Villa boss, "so we have to stay with it.
"Nobody envisaged that Aston Villa would be in the bottom half of the Championship. But that's where we're at. We have to batten down the hatches and keep plodding away.
"We've lost the home record which we were clinging on to. But we need to turn it round quickly. Now can we go and get a result on Tuesday night?"