“We are a young group of players, we have all got fire in our bellies.” – Fabian Delph
As the bells of doom rang once again after Villa’s second-half collapse against Saint’s, Tuesday night’s unexpected win against Manchester City at the Etihad stadium, silenced them instantly. The 4-2 result against a star-studded City team proved to those that still doubted Paul Lambert, than he means business and his appointment isn’t fool’s gold. As we keep saying, Villa’s revival will of course take time, and they’ll be some ups and downs on the way, but it’s .
1.Squad depth…or something resembling it?
Villa don’t seem to have a first 11, but rather 18 odd players that can slot in and be considered first 11. Villa have interchangeable options depending on the opposition that don’t necessarily weaken the team. Against City, Villa made six changes, yet it still looked like a first 11.
Given, Guzan, Lowton, Clark, Vlaar, Lichaj, Bennett, Delph, El Ahmadi, Ireland, Herd, Bannan, Albrighton, N’Zogbia, Holman, Benteke, Bent, Weimann, Agbonlahor
Compared to Everton for example, while Villa can’t match their first team man for man, in terms of quality, across the squad they arguably have a better average quality when it comes to the first 18 or so players. This may prove an advantage over the season when you factor in injuries and suspensions.
2.It’ll make other teams think twice
After last season Villa were lacking the confidence going into any game that they could win it. Likewise, pretty much every team in the Premiership looked at playing Villa as a chance for three points. The Saints game was in danger of cementing that thinking again, but the win again Man City is like taking out an advert for the rest of the Premiership (and Robbie Savage) to see. Now Villa are to be approached with a little more caution.
3. The cutting edge in the final third is back.
It was the one thing that has dogged Lambert’s rebuilding plan throughout preseason. Even on the US tour against lesser opposition, while everything looked good in the middle of the park with a new passing approach, Villa offered very little up top. Now with Gabby Agbonlahor back, Benteke signed, Bent looking interested, Weimann looking sharp and the return from injury of Marc Albrighton, Villa have options and a threat upfront again.
4. Villa isn’t a bad team to be at…
Players like Ron Vlaar and Christian Benteke will now believe they have joined a club with potential. Also, the youngsters will now feel they are now being played as part of the team and not just being used as scapegoats like last season, and only played due to injuries.
5. Even the perpetual moaner’s hopes will have risen.
Compare the pessimism on Monday of the upcoming Baggies game, to 24 hours later, when suddenly everyone is looking forward to it with renewed hope of victory.
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