With a disappointing last season behind them and the retention of Christian Benteke for the new season, we assess Aston Villa’s campaign thus far.
After a thoroughly disappointing season last time out, Villa have bizarrely gone undetected this season having crept into mid-table with little struggle. And they have been a typical mid-table side, tallying similar numbers of wins, draws and losses in their sixteen games so far. Villa fans will be disappointed that Belgian ace Benteke is yet to reciprocate his form from last season, but a number of shrewd signings have helped to make Paul Lambert’s side a more rounded outfit and have made them a more solid Premier League side than last season.
In spite of his aforementioned dip in form, Christian Benteke remains Villa’s key man. His goal threat is the club’s most valuable asset and has natural power and pace, making him ideal to spearhead the attacking triumvirate of himself, Agbonlahor and Weimann which is so crucial to Villa’s counter-attacking style.
He hasn’t recaptured his form, but he can be deadly in front of goal and will always be a threat to any side. Also, having a proven finisher amongst your ranks can be the difference between relegation and safety when you’re up against newly promoted sides and other strugglers.
One to Watch
Villa are a strong team unit and it’s difficult to isolate one player to look out for, but I really like new signing Libor Kozak.
The Czech striker, brought in from Lazio in the summer, was signed to supplement the goals and take some of the pressure off Benteke and has scored three times already in six matches.
Used primarily as a substitute under Paul Lambert, the Czech forward has proved himself to be a danger off the bench and is a problem player in the box; averaging a goal every two games is sharp for a striker, and his height make him an imposing figure.
He’s an alternative to Benteke when it’s not quite working out, and Lambert can be thankful to have an option like him on the bench. The term ‘super sub’ is starting to come to mind and, if he continues this form off the bench for Villa, he may be pressing for a starting spot.
Top of their Christmas list?
Difficult to say, as Lambert has consolidated what he had and added effectively already in the summer. The development of young stars has helped his side cope better in the Premier League in the wake of high profile departures like Ashley Young, Stewart Downing and Gareth barry in recent seasons; Lambert has succeeded in rebuilding a team in the top flight and making them competitive enough to stave off relegation once more.
Now they’ll be looking for some creative additions, potentially in midfield, to add some spice to their line up and develop their counter-attacking brand of football more effectively.
Mid-table obscurity isn’t for some, but would be a welcome finish for Lambert after dicing with death last season.
His side is gradually developing in an effort to move away from the dreaded bottom three, and a positive first half of the season has shown that his side has matured and settled better this time round. He has strong foundations to build on but Villa need to walk before they can run; ensure another season in the Premier League before aiming for the dizzy heights of the top ten: 11th
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