Jaden Philogene-Bidace (Aston Villa) – Match Report vs Newcastle United

The young English right winger was listed in a mostly first-choice Aston Villa starting XI against Newcastle United in preseason. As a Newcastle supporter, I tuned in to the match to see how the lads were looking and to see how Sandro Tonali was fitting in. What I didn’t expect was for a 21-year-old Aston Villa prospect to make the best impression (alongside Elliot Anderson). Jaden Philogene-Bidace was playing as a right midfielder in Unai Emery’s 4-4-1-1, the most direct player in attack. His defensive responsibilities were to stay disciplined in the midfield line of 4, seldom pressing opposing left back Matt Targett. He was also asked to give a wide edge to Aston Villa’s box around the Newcastle holding midfielders, denying them service. For a young player, showing an understanding of the rest defense positioning and philosophy will be important to earning minutes. In Emery’s system, one gap opens for opposing playmakers and the ultra-high back line is exposed.

What makes Philogene-Bidace Premier League ready is his pace, agility and dribbling skills. Jaden has a powerful shot and his world class ball skills with both left and right foot will give headaches to any defender you’ll find. Philogene-Bidace is a mixtape monster, showing off impressive acceleration, quick feet, and a propensity for nutmegs. He glides across the field, breaking ankles and driving toward goal with speed. Next he will need to provide the final ball, make veteran runs, position himself for rebounds, and play one touch football. What might make him unequipped to be a Premier League player is the ability to choose the right action under pressure and read the game at an Unai Emery pace. Having scored 4 goals and registered one assist on loan at Cardiff City last year (~2200 minutes), questions about end product remain. I always root for the showman, so I hope he gets a chance to compete for first team minutes this year. Being used as a substitute, Philogene could prove a valuable asset this season. Opposing left backs will not appreciate the task of defending him in the 80th minute on tired legs.

Going forward, I think Philogene should stay at Villa for at least the first half of the new season, learning from Unai Emery and training in a meticulous system to improve his football IQ. Philogene is a very similar profile to their new signing Moussa Diaby, so he would be an appropriate backup if Villa decide to sell Leon Bailey. Most important for Philogene-Bidace is to be in an environment where he can challenge himself in those weaker areas of his game. Many players of Jaden’s profile have failed to provide goals and assists despite obvious world class dribbling talent. I hope he can make a great career in football because he’s a joy to watch.

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