in the last few months Villa’s runs of results have been reaching schizophrenic proportions. There was a run of six losses on a trot, one point from nine games, that then turned into a five game unbeaten run, and now Villa have one point from the last three games. The next four games offer another potential twist in fortunes. We may have lost against Swansea in the recent Boxing Day encounter, but here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Aston Villa fans…
1. We’re passing the ball
Hell yeah! When Lambert first took over at Aston Villa, he looked to introduce a passing style. The infancy of which was seen in the club’s first tour in the United States and in the opening day fixture at West Ham, where the Villa fans sang “We’re passing the ball, we’re passing the ball, we’re Aston Villa, we’re passing the ball.” A few games later and the passing ethos that Lambert was trying to instill into his troops seem to fade rapidly into hoof ball.
Why did he change his team’s approach?
The most obvious answer to that would be that he soon realised he didn’t have the players to pull it off in an effective manner. Two seasons later though, it’s perhaps odd that he’s decided to change the way Villa play half-way through the season.
It’s been mooted that the trigger for the decision was following a mid-week trip to visit Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola. Certainly that would have played a part, as would the growing pressure brought on his head of only managing one point from nine games at the time. While only in its infancy, it’s a welcomed change of approach.
So far, so good. There was a mid-game spell of over 20 consecutive Villa passes against Manchester United that were met with ‘Ole’s from Aston Villa fans. Villa enjoyed 57 per-cent of the possession away at Swansea and made 593 passes compared to the Swan’s 454. The 89% accuracy was good to see as well. Hopefully with more purpose and imagination in the final third, we could witness a rebirth of the team.
2. January is less than a week away
If Lambert is serious about this new style of play, a couple new quality additions will be a massive help in furthering it. A decent winger and the ever elusive quality number 10 would fit the bill just fine.
You could argue that Joe Cole and also Jack Grealish should be given more of a crack behind Benteke, this may happen still, but a new face in that position should be a priority for the Villa boss in January
3. Next four Aston Villa games
It’s time to flip what is starting to be another poor run. One point in three games has a chance of becoming the best winning run under Lambert so far (it hasn’t got much to beat).
With the next four games line-up being: Sunderland (h), Palace (h), Blackpool (h), Leicester (a) , we should be looking at four wins shouldn’t we?
Come on Villa, let’s go for it and start 2015 with a bang.
4. Xmas Day Resistance
Luckily most of us should have bagged some presents and filled our bellies with food and drink, the day before the Swansea game, so the resulting loss wouldn’t have impacted on us too much. Did you really expect Villa to add to the Christmas cheer? They have the worst recent boxing Day record of any Premier League team. We can take the Swansea defeat on the chin, as long as Villa beat Sunderland…
5. Fans having a go
You could argue that the club should have dropped FA Cup prices for the Blackpool game even lower than they did, certainly for long-suffering season ticket holders (although you can still get in for as low as a tenner for adults). It was good to see the Villa supporter group the Brigada 1874 look to rally a show of support for the team and atmosphere for the fans in L7 of the Holte End for the FA Cup fixture.
Normally in L8 of the Holte, the temporary shift to L7 will allow more fans to join in and bring flags and banners to support the team with the view of creating a better match day experience for supporters who make it to the game. Hopefully, it will provide a chance for Villans to make new friends as well.
If you want more details of Brigada 1874’s plans check out the MOMS story here.
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Misery and Humbug as ever from Terry. Last year we were battered by Swansea and lost 4-1 while hardly touching the ball. This year some moronic goalkeeping one end with heroics the other saw us lose narrowly by Swansea’s only real chance.
We dominated the game and had Grealish being used earlier instead of the insipid N’zogbia, we would have gone on to get something from the game. There is a change going on with Villa as anyone who actually goes to watch them will see. Football at last? We’ve waited long enough.
While I’d love to see more of Cole and Grealish, we still need reinforcements in the attacking half of midfield. Cleverley is just not good enough in the attacking third, and to be honest, neither is Delph. Cole did a nice job in his first start, but as we all knew he would, he was quickly out with injury. Even if he did not have fitness issues, it would be good to have a back-up #10, maybe a youngster to be gradually weaned into being our future playmaker. But with Cole’s history, I think we really need to bring in two players who can contribute there. Maybe another seasoned veteran and an up-and-comer…maybe someone like Moussa Dembele and Ravel Morrison? but maybe better to bring in players from France, Germany, or even Holland or Denmark, who other EPL teams won’t have a book on.
Similarly, on the wings, we need to bring in more than just one player. Grealish obviously has bags of potential, but he is young, and should not have to bear the burden of Villa’s success or failure. Gabby does his best for us when he carries the ball out to the wings and uses his pace to get past a fullback, then holds it up while others get into the box. But his quality in getting it into the box is not that of a premiership winger. Lowton’s a good crosser, but lacks the pace. Bacuna can be a useful back-up on the right wing, but really isn’t the quality we want as a starting winger. I’d love to see us nick Yannick Bolasie off Palace, and then grab another, younger wide player with Gabby-like pace but better crossing potential.
I forgot to mention what most of us already know – that N’Zogbia seems to have his best days behind him, and we should sell him to anyone willing to buy.
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