Lack of ambition, impending Aston Villa crisis, Lambert pressure – just another week at the Villa
Death, taxes and Manchester United winning at Villa Park. After the most inevitable result in English football happened again, here is another look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Aston Villa’s current situation.
Marc Albrighton was given his first Premier League start since New Year’s Day and to dust off the old cliché, looks a bit like a new signing on the wing. He looked so lively in Villa’s zenith that was their opening fifteen minutes or so, and after Villa’s early implosion he remained one of the only players who looked up for any sort of fight whatsoever and who showed any real intent on driving at the United back line. It’s a novelty to have a genuine winger who has the ability to put a ball into the box again, and Lambert has to keep him in the team for the Stoke and Palace games, particularly at the Britannia with Gabby suspended.
Another good point was the return of Gary Gardner to the substitutes’ bench, and I shouldn’t think I’m alone in hoping that the youngster gets more time in Villa’s midfield in the coming weeks.
Delph’s return will be like a godsend for our midfield and Vlaar needs to get back to full fitness and back in the centre of our defence as soon as possible.
Oh, and at least it was only three.
Right then. The woeful run against United continues; the criminally bad home form rumbles on; our defence which is average with Vlaar continues to look Championship standard without him; our central midfield which is average with Delph continues to look Championship standard without him; and Christian Benteke is going through the motions, although even that, he does in a remarkably unenthusiastic way.
Although his good start was admittedly cut short by injury, Benteke’s presence in the Villa side is something of a curiosity at the moment. If he’s fully fit, his performances are unacceptable. If he’s not, why on earth is he still being stuck up top? The big Belgian barely even runs any more, and I for one would be much happier at this point with Libor Kozák leading the line over a Christmas period packed full of games that Villa needs results from, particularly if Lambert does as he should by starting Marc Albrighton regularly.
Villa’s midfield just don’t look capable of creating anything (especially so without Delph), and the loss of Agbonlahor for the Stoke game is huge, as it nullifies most of Villa’s threat on the counter-attack, which is the only kind of threat we pose. At least Stephen Ireland can’t score against us though.
The manner of the performances at the moment is the worst thing. Let’s be honest, the Southampton win, although a fantastic result, was a freak result, and the performance was not even particularly good. In fact, the last time Villa played well was in the latter half of the West Brom game, when we actually managed to show some fight, albeit after an atrocious first half.
Sunderland at home was embarrassing, as was Fulham last weekend.We are just terrible to watch, and everything can perhaps be summed up by the fact that Villa have scored just seven goals since the 3-2 win over Manchester City on 28 September. Those seven goals have come in three games (Cardiff, West Brom and Southampton), meaning that Villa have gone seven out of the last ten games without scoring.
As well as the desperate lack of attacking threat, Villa’s defence were just so poor again today. Luna is starting to look like a bit of a joke of a left-back, and although Okore’s injury was terrible luck, the fact that without Vlaar we’re left with Clark and Baker at centre-half is frightening, in all honesty. For me, Lowton should be at right-back over Bacuna even if you do not consider the latter’s horror show at Craven Cottage last week.
In the interest of balance, it should be acknowledged that, with the exception of the abysmal defeat at Fulham, every defeat suffered by Villa this term has been to a team currently in the top eight. But Villa desperately need to prove over the next few weeks that they can beat the teams around them and below them.
Lambert going is not the answer in my eyes; he has done some decent things at the club after the mutinous McLeish season. However, the fact of the matter is that at the moment it is as if Aston Villa F.C. see avoiding relegation as an achievement, and this is perhaps the crux of the issue –all the ambition that the club used to harbour seems to have been abandoned by Lerner, Faulkner and co.
Throughout all of this, Villa somehow remain eleventh in the Premier League table (although the table’s current suggestion that there are nine teams worse than Villa in the league seems rather optimistic). Villa play four times in the League in the next 17 days – Stoke City away, Crystal Palace at home, Swansea at home and Sunderland away. A string of good results from these fixtures will reverse the club’s slump and keep them in mid-table with a platform to build upon. A poor return from those four games, however, and Villa will plummet down what is a tight bottom half of the table and into something resembling genuine crisis.
Aston Villa crisis or a team in transition? How do you see the Christmas period panning out? Comment below.
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