Clues to Villa’s Future from the SV Rodinghausen v Aston Villa Preseason Fixture
While the Christian Benteke transfer saga fired up in the background, Aston Villa kicked off their preseason to the 2013/14 with a 1-1 draw at SV Rodinghausen, a lower league German team. While the result doesn’t matter one jot, like the tea leaves at the bottom of a tea cup, what happened on the pitch gave a few hints to Villa’s future.
First of all, Benteke wasn’t on the pitch. With Nicklas Helenius lining up with Weimann and Agbonlahor in the second-half, it suggested that Lambert always had one eye on grooming Helenius to fill Benteke’s boots, if he were to leave; although the Villa manager was probably thinking later rather than sooner.
According to the club, Benteke was always going to miss the German tour, as they allegedly gave the striker an extended break due to his involvement in Belgium’s late season international matches. Although, considering this included a match against the USA and Brad Guzan, why wasn’t the Villa keeper afforded the same extended holiday?
From the two below line-ups that started each half in Germany, after the first batch of signings this summer, it’s clear that Villa now have two decent enough players for each position. Any further signings would be aimed at upping the quality in the first team.
First Half: Guzan, Herd, Bennett, Vlaar, Baker, Bacuna, Delph, Sylla, Albrighton, Tonev , Bowery
Second Half: Steer, Lowton, Luna, Okore, Clark, El Ahmadi, Gardner, Westwood, Helenius, Agbonlahor, Weimann.
The return of three long-term injury lay-offs from last season, certainly boosts the squad. Chris Herd is very much in the squad now as Lowton’s back-up at right-back and as a general midfield utility player, while the return of Marc Albrighton and Gary Gardner gives Villa increased options further up the pitch. Hopefully this season will be Gardner’s chance to show us more of his much mooted potential.
It was good to see Helenius find the net right off the bat, which along with his goal-scoring record at his previous club, suggests the Dane knows where the goal is. The question remains though, does Jordan Bowery? Hopefully he’ll score his allusive first goal for the club while out in Germany. The bad news came when Okore limped off injured at the end of the game. It certainly looks like he won’t see any more action in Germany.
Another thing that the two line-ups in the match confirm is the mooted freezing out and cull of the likes of Ireland, Bent, Given, Bannan, Stevens, Delfouneso and Hutton. Lets just hope that Benteke doesn’t join them yet.
Match highlights (in German, highlights after focus on Rodinghausen’s cracking goal)
The AstonVilla pre season fixtures and tour continues with games this weekend against SC Paderborn at Benteler Arena on Friday July 12 (5pm) and VfL Bochum at Rewirpowerstadion on Sunday July 14 (2.30pm).
Check out Betting News to see how many miles around the world Premiership clubs will be traveling this preseason.
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