[quote_center]Our great fans are the heart and soul of this club, but like every heart we need adrenaline and excitement to beat strong[/quote_center]
Monday night saw the belated birthday celebration, thanks to the bureaucracy of modern football (courtesy of Sky Sports), of our great football club. I was hoping that this segment of Aston Villa Star Players of the Week would be outlining the great celebration put on by Lambert’s men with a dazzling performance and victory. We can all dream.
Instead, the Villa faithful were treated to yet another dull performance which lacked imagination and direction. We played like we were away from home trying to absorb pressure and breaking quickly.
I agree, Southampton are the in-form team in the league at the moment but this playing style just shows to you the lack of improvement from the team in the last three years. A polar opposite to the last three years for the Saints I must add.
The saddest thing to come from Mondays night’s game however was the attendance. 25,311 brave souls, the lowest league attendance at Villa Park since 1999, attended Lambert’s 100th game in charge. Our Scottish general can blame the weather and the fact the game was televised for the low turnout, but he cannot hide from the real reasoning; no win since September, six goals in twelve games, 24 shots on target all season and 59 in the calendar year.
It saddens me to see reports that Villa Park is now the quietest stadium in the league. Our great fans are the heart and soul of this club, but like every heart we need adrenaline and excitement to beat strong and we certainly aren’t being given that. Something drastic has to change in the next few games against ‘lesser’ clubs before our beloved club cardiac arrests out of the top division in this our 140th year.
Stat of the Week – Southampton enjoyed 229 passes more than Villa. That statistic needs absolutely no analysis.
Aston Villa Star Players of the Week
3rd Place – Gabby Agbonlahor (1pt)
It was a performance of grit and endless energy from the lifelong Villa fan. Gabby showed great heart throughout the game chasing lost cause, after lost cause. His tireless work rate was what bagged him the priceless first goal as he chased a hit and hope pass from Clark and got there in front of Forster and calmly slotted the ball home with his weaker foot.
2nd Place – Alan Hutton (3pts)
Yet again the flying Scotsman put in a solid performance at right-back for the claret and blue cause. He marshalled Southampton’s left flank diligently all night and kept the dangerous Saints from creating anything of note down that side. The Scot also supplied a threat down the right which meant former Villan Bertrand was restricted in coming forward and giving them an extra dimension. By far Villa’s player of the season so far and a comeback story destined for Hollywood.
1st Place – Ciaran Clark (5pts)
I can’t believe I have just typed those words. I for one, in the past, have called Clark ‘Bambi on ice’ and ‘Calamity Clark’ but it was a solid performance from the Irishman. For the first time in a Villa shirt Clark won absolutely everything in the air against a top striker. Pelle never got a sniff in the game thanks to the tight marking of Clark. There was a lot of worry going into the game with the partnership at the back of Clark and the ‘unfit’ Okore. But to my delight they struck a great partnership together and looked solid throughout the game. Maybe, just maybe, this game was the coming of age a Mr Ciaran Clark.
Villan that has to Pick Themselves Up and Go Again
Lambert has now added the lowest attendance in 15 years to his ever-growing list of stats since taking charge of the Villa. His tactical awareness and decision-making has to be bought under scrutiny yet again.
Naively, Villa once again sat back way too early in the game to defend their lead. What baffled fans everywhere the most though was bringing Bent on in the second half. Everyone that knows Darren Bent’s game will know that he thrives on the team having possession and being on the front foot. So to bring him on in a game where we had less than 40% possession and were simply just trying to break quickly on a team was ludicrous.
Villa now face a massive period now where they face all the teams in and around them. The boys have to pull some results out the bag soon to gain some breathing space from the bottom sides and build some confidence heading into the new year. Anything less and Lambert should join Keane on his way out of the club.
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