Sanchez signing vital for Villa if they are to play three at the back

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Having been a formation rarely utilised in England since the late 1990s, the cyclical nature of football has done a full turn and three at the back is set to prove popular again in the Premier League in 2013/14.

Manchester United, QPR and West Brom look the most regular users, with Aston Villa, West Ham and Hull liable to switch to this options for various games.

And for Paul Lambert, an energetic, tougher-tackling option in the middle of the park looks a vital component if such a formation is used.

This is what Carlos Sanchez is and he was a key cog in the Colombian side that performed so admirably at the World Cup.

He averaged three tackles per game at the World Cup, got through a willing amount of running and laid the platform for the likes of James Rodriguez to strut their stuff.

Reports indicate that Sanchez has refused to train with La Liga side Elche in recent days to push through a move to Villa Park and that a three-year deal is on the table. Lambert is reportedly going to pay £4.5m for the 28-year-old.

Aston Villa conceded more goals than any of the other 16 teams to survive in the Premier League last season and Ladbrokes are currently top price on them finishing in the bottom three in the upcoming campaign.

But taking the 2/9 that they stay up looks far the more sensible option if Sanchez arrives from Spain.

The main reason Villa require such a tenacious midfielder is that Joe Cole is the obvious pick to start as the spearhead of the midfield three and he will certainly be selected for his creativity, over workrate and defensive capabilities.

This will put added pressure on the two deeper midfielders, who will almost have to take responsibility for some of Cole’s workload.

Fabian Delph is assured one of these spots, with Ashley Westwood the leading candidate for the other.

The problem for Westwood is that although he is adept at keeping possession ticking over, his influence on games is fairly limited, particularly in a defensive sense.

A proper holding midfielder would allow Delph to perform box-to-box duties with the knowledge of someone protecting the central areas behind him, while the wing backs will have licence to get forward.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.