Saturday’s 2-0 home win over Norwich City at Villa Park was most welcome and leaves the club with the slightest glimmer of hope of avoiding relegation. Norwich City is a very average side and failed the Canaries to offer much attacking threat but the comfortable manner of the victory was pleasing. Three of our four strikers were either injured or suspended, so club captain Gabby Agbonlahor was left to play as a lone striker and it was even more pleasing to see him notch his first goal of the season.
There was much speculation in the January transfer window that Agbonlahor was set to leave Villa Park, with the club reportedly looking to offload his hefty wages as Hollis looks to reduce expenditure. However, Agbonlahor stayed put and was very forthright when describing the rumours regarding his potential departure. His goal on Saturday was well taken, although Declan Rudd in the Canaries’ goal gave him a huge helping hand by coming so far out of his goal. This season has been a struggle for most of our players but Agbonlahor has seemingly found it tougher than most, despite being one of our most experienced players. It was nice to see him return to the side and contribute positively towards a rare Villa victory.
Gabby Agbonlahor’s career epitomises the fortunes of Aston Villa over the last decade. It started full of promise, excitement and huge potential but has now petered out to one of mediocrity and missed opportunity. Agbonlahor is clearly not the most talented player we’ve ever had but you can’t knock him for his commitment or endeavour and the achievements that he has had during his career. He is our top goal-scorer in Premier League history and, judging by our current league position, he might end up holding the record for quite some time. When you consider the calibre of player that he has overtaken and the fact that he came through our youth academy, it is a record for both him, the club and supporters to be proud of.
Agbonlahor on top form can be a devastating attacking weapon, albeit an inconsistent and frustrating one. Whilst his physical attributes can be so difficult for the opposition to handle, his lack of ruthlessness in front of goal and infuriating ability to go missing in games has led to much criticism from some sections of our support. However, this inability to find a good run of form could be put down to being regularly played out of position and the number of niggling injuries that he has suffered in the past few seasons. According to a BBC study, Agbonlahor is the second most injury prone player in the Premier League over the last three seasons, suffering twenty different injuries in that time. Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere tops the list with twenty-one.
For Aston Villa supporters of a certain age, Gabby Agbonlahor remains the last link between the team they watched growing up and the current squad. He also reminds all of us how enjoyable it was to be a Villa fan during the late Noughties and also of what could have been with a little more luck and investment. Due to our lack of investment during the January transfer window, it is important for Garde to be able to get the most out of all the players he has available to him and Agbonlahor could be a key figure in any potential revival. Welcome back, Gabby! It’s nice to have you back in action.