Aston Villa have had a fairly decent start to the 2013 Premier League campaign. With three of the big four coming in their opening three fixtures, it was always going to be a rough start for the young Villains. But although they only took three points from these matches, Villa showed great potential and were very unlucky not to have taken more.
Signing six new players in the summer and tying up new contracts for in-demand forwards Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann, Villa look set for a much better season than their last. However, their best chance for Premier League survival may be a player who has been with them for a while.
Marc Albrighton has been dealing with injury since Paul Lambert took over in 2012. This kept him out of the first team which he worked his way into under both Martin O'Neil and Alex McLeish. With the 2013 season underway, it looks like Albrighton is healthy and ready to win his place back with the likes of Leandro Bacuna and Alexander Tonev being brought in to play wide.
Albrighton's biggest threat is his deadly crossing. Having been compared to David Beckham for his ability, he has been hailed as one of the best crossers in the Premier League. During his breakout campaign in 2011 he was attempting on average 6.5 crosses a game, completing around 20% of them. It's that kind of service that Benteke relishes, with his aerial ability on full display during Villa's 3-0 win over Rotherham in the Capital One Cup.
Not only is Albrighton's crossing a threat, he is also a very pacy winger known for his dribbling and control. Combining his speed with that of Gabriel Agbonlahor and Benteke in the final third, Villa can become a lethal counter attacking team. Albrighton's ability to hold the ball and move it down the sideline can help Villa to keep attacks alive and not get caught out on the break.
With injury issues hopefully behind him, Albrighton has a chance to shine in the fast-paced Villa side. His crossing and bravery in front of goal could be vital in the team's campaign to avoid a relegation battle this year. He's part of a young core of talented players that Lambert has at his disposal. and time will tell if Albrighton can truly emulate his role model, England hero Beckham.
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