Lambert’s Strongest XI


This season we, as Villa fans, have seen a lot of different starting line-ups and constant changes in formation. Even if we win a game Lambert still changes things, hoping to see the same result and possibly a better performance next time out, but all too often this season we have seen this strategy fail. This has led me to the conclusion the Paul Lambert does not know what his current strongest XI is.

Recently, we have seen our side give a strong and encouraging performance at Anfield which was followed by a dramatic win over the Baggies. There was only one change to Villa’s starting XI in those two matches. The change saw Lowton brought back into the starting line-up against West Brom for Gabby Agbonlahor, who had picked up a knock during the match against Liverpool.

Despite these promising results Lambert decided to completely shuffle the team about for the away trip to Everton at the weekend. This saw two big changes made to the side that started the previous, game along with a completely new shape to the formation. This was yet another example of Lambert not knowing his strongest starting XI, given the players available due to injuries.

I recently asked fans on Twitter to suggest Villa’s strongest XI if we had no injured players in our current squad. This was the response I got from most people who replied and I’d have to agree with them:

I then asked Villa fans who follow me on Twitter to name our current strongest XI given injuries and suspensions. The majority came up with this and once again I agree as this would’ve been the side I would’ve picked myself, although it is not yet known if Vlaar and Agbonlahor will be fit for this weekend’s game against West Ham.


The question this then leads me to is: if we, the fans, can see our strongest side, why cant Lambert? Is there something he sees in training that we don’t get to see or is this just the way he likes to manage his team, with plenty of squad rotation as he tries to get the most out of all the players he has available to him?

I for one would rather have a settled starting line-up and then work around that, only making changes when necessary.


  1. So you do not want to follow a top Prem footie team ? A starting 11 & also rans was MON’s policy & that of Fizzy pop teams ! Top Prem teams have squads & alter tactics depending on the oppposition & their tactics . But over the last 2 summer transfer windows Villa have made drastic changes to their squad so that they can be a top EPL team with a squad . But for that to work the manager has to know how to get the best out of the squad . And that can only be done by altering the team & tactics on a match day , as what has been practiced on the training field , can only be sen to work or not under full match conditions .
    As peeps not being able to work out his tactics well if supporters can’t nor can the oposition for the next match . Although a clue might be in PL’s substitutions as the finishing 11 against the Baggies was the starting 11 against the Toffies . And the bench to a certain degree is an indication of what changes might, injury permitting ,be made in both the match & the starting 11 for the next match .
    But should Villa not be trying to go all out for a win every time ? Well it would be nice for that to happen , but will it bring the success fans want ? I don’t think it will , after all where have Villa been since they won the European Cup other than in obscurity ?
    The current plan seems to be to aim beyond instant succcess & more obscurity , but that takes but can fans be patient enough to allow that to happen ?

    Certainly if it is to happen Villa needs a squad & not just a starting 11. And the time to judge just how well the season has progresssed is when the Fat Lady sings come season end !

  2. I am pretty much in agreement with both teams and would recognise that the slight change in formation might depend on who you were playing – Weimann at no. 10 in a 4-4-2 against the top side at home or away when they will come at you with a more offensive 4-3-3 with Bacuna in the no. 10 role when we play the lesser teams at VP.

    MON’s policy was a starting XI plus also runs THAT HE HAD PAID A LOT FOR! And we were trying to challenge for 6th with cup runs ongoing. No such hassle of the cups for Villa this season so plenty of down time!

    I think the issue with Lambert is the imbalance in his squad. He has 7 forwards but only two of them have the mobility/pace/energy to play in the wide attacking positions or cover for a no. 10 as Weimann did against Plop. If either Gabby or Andi has an injury (of which the former has quite a few) we are left with little cover or option except to pair two 9’s as we did against Everton – hardly ideal for a team that bases its strategy on fast counterattacking play!! We would have been much better bringing in a Zaha/Ince or even a Puncheon rather than Fatty Holt IMO. What is the purpose of Jordan Bowery or Helenius at Villa?? He has two wingers in Tonev and Marc that he doesn’t really know how to use/fit into his structure. We all know he has no no. 10 and whilst Weimann was great in that role against Plop he will not necessarily work at home against a West Ham or Norwich that will defend deep where we need guile and craft to open them up and not pace and energy. He has 4/5 centre backs of whom only one is over 25 and he is injury prone – this for me is a key area where experience in at least one partner (and that means PL experience) is CRUCIAL … someone needs to be able to organise a back line. Whilst he has made significant changes to the squad over the last two summers, it still has glaring shortcomings in a number of ways in terms of options and experience in key areas.

  3. I’m not not sure about Bowery seems he only gets used if there’s some rough play to go against . As for Helenius PL has said he’s one for the future & that he’s not a target man so maybe we’ll just have to wait & see. As for the use of wingers maybe this weekend might see their use if my prediction of the finishing 11 being the starting 11 for the next game comes true !


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here