Football

Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor must do more

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The parallels are obvious. Aston Villa are in trouble and Gerard Houllier is the Frenchman appointed to dig them out of it, and - if possible - offer them a brand of progressive, forward-thinking football, utilising a modest budget.

Well, sort of modest. The £24 million signing of Darren Bent in January was a statement of intent from Villa and Randy Lerner, who contrary to some belief does back his managers.

There were scares, but Houllier's football paid off, Bent scored the goals, and the club finished ninth, partially thanks to a freak combination of final day results including their own 1-0 victory over Liverpool.

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Fast forward six years, and Villa have appointed another Frenchman, Remi Garde, to dig the club out of a bigger hole. If Garde can keep Villa competitive up to January, will funds be released to sign the next Darren Bent?

Would a striker of high calibre want to come to Villa, or has the club faded too much to be worth the risk?

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Perhaps a more pressing question, though, is why Villa can't rely on Gabriel Agbonlahor to be that goalscoring, all-action striker?

It's taken with a pinch of salt now that Agbonlahor, 29, is not the man to score Villa's goals, but why is it that Leicester's Jamie Vardy is pulling up trees yet Agbonlahor still hasn't registered a goal this season?

Are the two players really so different? Both have blistering pace, a similar physical presence and both can score goals. So why is Vardy terrorising defences up and down the country and having such big impacts on games when Agbonlahor is terrorising his own fans with lacklustre displays?

Is it simply a case of Vardy wanting it more, putting in more effort, having the greater appetite and having the confidence to get on the ball and demand the one-two? Or is it just a freakish purple patch for the former Fleetwood striker?

Villa fans will often tell you Agbonlahor can't finish, but there have been plenty of well-taken goals from the man capped three times by England.

In truth, Agbonlahor hasn't always played as a striker, often deployed out wide and does a selfless job for the club, something Andreas Weimann did and also saw his goal return dry up as a result.

But Agbonlahor must take his chance when he is played up front. He must hassle, be aggressive, get on the ball, use his speed to stretch defences, run at defenders and get in the six-yard box more often.

If Villa are unable to land the next Darren Bent, Remi Garde must surely do, with greater conviction, what previous Villa managers haven't: rely on Gabriel Agbonlahor to score goals.

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Topics:
Aston Villa
Premier League
Gabriel Agbonlahor
Football

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