Prior to the Tottenham Hotspur game, the Villans failed to find the net in five games. This led to Lambert breaking yet another record, as the team went five games without gaining a point and without scoring a goal. This changed when Andi Weimann slid the ball into the corner of the net against Spurs at Villa Park. It looked like the Villans had more goals in them – until the sixtieth minute, which was when Christian Benteke was sent off for pushing Ryan Mason in the face. During the first hour of that game, we saw a rejuvenated Benteke: it seemed like the Belgian was back on form, as he led the line well, and players were getting the ball into the box to him, especially Matt Lowton.
On Saturday, the team missed the physical presence of Benteke. Paul Lambert elected Agbonlahor as Benteke’s replacement, as he has the strength and the pace to lead the line, although he lacks composure in front of goal. This was evident against West Ham when he was able to turn past James Collins with ease yet he put the ball in row Z when the opportunity to score arose.
Agbonlahor, I feel, is suited to playing wide, cutting inside and providing the centre forward with service. Weimann is a finisher and Lambert should utilise his qualities by sticking him in the middle. Weimann is a work horse; however, he does lack the skill required while playing on the wing, as he does find it hard to beat the full back.
The team does miss a physical presence up front, whether that is Christian Benteke or Villa’s forgotten man Libor Kozak, who last month was reported to have a new injury setback that has ruled the striker out until early 2015. The Czech Republic forward became a fans’ favourite when he picked up from where Benteke had left off when the Belgian was injured. Kozak showed he had the knack for scoring vital goals.
Injuries have been the club’s Achilles’ heel over the past few seasons, metaphorically speaking, but it was the same injury that Charles N’Zogbia and Christian Benteke were both ruled out with. The back four has been changed regularly, due to injuries, and the physios will treat a regular player from the squad over the international break, since Nathan Baker was carried off on a stretcher at the Boleyn Ground.
One player who has been riddled with injuries throughout his career is Joe Cole. He has the qualities to play in the role behind the striker and it is a position he is familiar with. Cole could bring experience and leadership to the team at a time when it is evident that there are not many natural leaders on the pitch. He is able to feed the strikers with a neat pass or he can dribble at the defenders and try to hurt them that way.
Jack Grealish is another player who would be capable of playing behind the strikers – and he would play fearlessly. Grealish would also bring fresh legs and wouldn’t play with the lack of confidence that some of the players have evidently been suffering from, especially when the club faced Queens Park Rangers. Having had the majority of the possession, the Villans lacked the quality to do anything with it. Is Jack Grealish ready to be thrown in?
The players, the staff and, most importantly, the fans have the international break to recover from a disappointing run of games. Fans will be hoping to see better performances when the players return to B6 against Southampton and they will travel there on November 24th in the hope that the team doesn’t replicate the form shown after the last international break…