Benteke is smiling, Tony Moon has a big grin and Villa supporters are pretty darn cheerful
Aston Villa’s 3-1 triumph at the Emirates extended their winning run to five games having finished pre-season strongly. One of the best counter-attacking teams in the first half of the year, Villa were irresistible on the break with Benteke, Weimann and Agbonlahor running riot against Arsenal. If they can sort out the home form, this season could get very interesting. UTV
1. Of course, the main reason for cheer during preseason was Christian Benteke staying with the club by signing a new contract and against Arsenal, he continued where he left off from last season.
Second season syndrome? Opposition defences will work him out? The only thing opposition managers would have learnt about Benteke is he is unplayable. You could man-mark him, but chances are, your marking defender will be left in a crumpled heap on the pitch, or worse, suffer broken bones as the Malaga defender found out in pre-season.
I remember being at a Paris St Germain vs Lyon game in Paris, shortly after John Carew came to Villa from Lyon. A Lyon supporter informed me about Carew’s attitude problem and his tendency not to always be present in games. “If you can get Carew to play, you will be invincible,” he told me. Carew had his fair share of good moments at Villa, but ultimately his temperament let him down, as the Lyon fan had warned. Benteke has no such problems. He may not make Villa invincible (just yet), but he gives Villa a chance against any team.
2. It seems Villa now have two players that are now potentially ‘unplayable’ with Gabby Agbonlahor adding to Benteke. “Agbonlahor produced as good a performance as I’ve seen in many a year, he was unplayable,” gushed Paul Lambert after the Arsenal match. The Villa front three, including Weimann, are starting to link-up beautifully, as they attack with pace, power and gusto. We even saw another Benteke backheeler to Weimann, albeit without the clinical result it had at Anfield. You sense there is so much wonder to come from Villa’s forward trio this season.
3. If you had to pick the new signing that has taken to Villa life the best so far and has embraced the supporters, it’s Tony Moon aka Mr Luna. Always happy to have a photo taken with fans, a beard lover and also appreciative of his English ‘nickname’, the joy on the Spaniard’s face was there for all to see, when he finished with aplomb to score on his debut. In a game that at times was played at break-neck speed, Luna’s first taste of the Premiership was certainly a baptism of fire, but he maintained a cool head to bury his goal to make the traveling Villa fans go berserk.
4. Paul Lambert has ditched the shell suit. Finally. There’s two schools of thought to the ‘tracksuit manager’ approach to football. It can be seen as you’re in it with the players, kicking every ball with them. Or, it can come across as a bit ‘Dave Bassett’ and lower league. Also, why would you want to look like a Martin O’Neill wannabe? Lambert looked smart in his tie and suit combo at the Emirates, and it seems to suggest classier things are to come for Villa. It’s always better to be dressed for success.
5. When the fixture list was first viewed, Villa’s first three games suggested the highest position in the table Villa would see was 2nd, and that was only because it was the position afforded to them at the start of the season due to alphabetical order. Villa, if only for an hour or so, reached the top of the league, until United, in the tradition of last-minute pain they’ve inflicted on Villa over the years, scored a fourth in injury time to snatch the spot from us. Still, it promises to be a much better start than last season, despite more difficult fixtures.
PS – I could have added ‘The Villa Away Supporters’ to the list, but that’s standard.
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