Gabriel Agbonlahor is no doubt a Villain through and through. Born a stone's throw from Villa park and a product of the youth academy, he has constantly during his career reaffirmed his love for the club.
The key question on everyone's lips at the moment though is when does this love for the club no longer give him an assured role in the team?
On the surface atleast, Agbonlahor appears to have it all. His supersonic pace terrifies every defender in the land, he is exceptionally passionate, will run all day long and over the years has added a lot of muscle to his sprinters frame.
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However, in this modern game physicality and passion is only a portion of the recipe for a successful football player and Agbonlahor is testament to this. Over the last few years the amount of times that Agbonlahor falls short in terms of his final product is alarming and begs the question; Does he merit a place in Villa’s improving team?
Agbonlahor is loved at Villa park, nobody runs more for the team and his loyalty early on in his career when the big teams were sniffing around him has not been forgotten but, he is no longer good enough for a starting berth.
Unlike previous years Villa's squad is now boasting a wealth of attacking options; Scott Sinclair, Jordan Ayew, Jack Grealish, Carles Gil, Rudy Gestede and Libor Kozak are all realistically fighting for three/four attacking positions.
Long gone are the days of rampaging runs, blitzing past defenders and England call-ups as the young Agbonlahor used to display on a regular basis. Instead it is replaced by so many nearly moments as defenders have over the years wised up to him and his lack of a footballing brain has cost him as he cannot adapt.
A classic example of this short falling was evident against Manchester United early in the second half as Jordan Amavi powered towards the byline and put the ball across the box. Ayew ran towards the near post and took the defender with him leaving space, but instead of attacking the space Agbonlahor follows Ayew and they both attack the front post where if he ran to the back post he would be bearing down on goal.
His output has dropped over the years too, in 2009-10 season he scored 16 goals in all competitions, the last two years he has scored four and then six. There has to be a special mention that despite his lack of output he is a completely different animal when Villa’s backs are against the wall; late goals in derbies against Birmingham City and West Brom are perhaps the fondest memories of his time in a Villa shirt, however, these performances come in a flash and are followed by 15 games of mediocrity.
There comes a point when a player becomes too comfortable at club, becomes part of the furniture almost and Agbonlahor is falling into that category.
His commitment to the club combined with a lack of alternatives and potential have always assured him of a place at Villa but at 28-years-old he is going to get any better and Villa need more from their forward line than he can offer.
Tim Sherwood has shown himself to not be afraid to make a big call in selecting his team, he is more than willing to select young players and this could hinder Agbonlahor’s involvement further. Whilst he may offer a threat as an impact sub or a cup player his days in Villa’s starting lineup could be numbered.
What do you think? Is Agbonlahor worth his place? Let us know in the comments section below.
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