Times were hard last year for Villa fans. It is, however, a new season and the fans have new football kits to put on, new players to watch and, most importantly, a real reason to be excited, with the prospect of some success this season.
With last season’s nightmare still fresh in the memory, many fans woke up on Saturday morning with a mixture of excitement and nerves. Luckily, Villa, like many pundits have predicted, seem to have come of age since some of last season’s drubbings, especially the 8-0 defeat at the hands of Chelsea.
The first games of the season also did not bode well, having to play Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. As things have turned out, it hasn’t been a bad start to the season: a win at Arsenal and narrow defeat by Chelsea would have been snapped up by most before the season kicked off.
A 3-1 win at Arsenal is never a bad way to kick off proceedings and a top half finish really looks to be on the cards. It was a calm and measured display by the young side, even after going a goal down so early on. The partnership of Agbonlahor and Benteke also looks frightening; even Mourinho has spoken of the threat Villa pose on the counter attack.
Youth coming of age
The gamble to invest in youth has paid off. For those who wondered why Lambert was trusting in an inexperienced and young side, their questions are now being answered. A year on, the young players have gained much-needed experience and with the additional signings the beginning of something very exciting looks to be in place.
Comparisons have been made to the single-mindedness of Alex Ferguson, who shrugged off the criticism that ‘You will never win anything with kids’ and then added the quality and experience of Cantona et al back in the 90s. Although it is unlikely Villa will reach the same heights, the method of growing a team is tried and tested.
For just £11 million, top quality signings Antonio Luna, Jores Okore (who will bring much needed stability to the defence) Jed Steer, Aleksandar Tonev and Nicklas Helenius have come in. Luna, who scored against Arsenal, was a great piece of business. Having been priced out of signing Aaron Cresswell, signing Luna for just £1.5 million will pay dividends.
We also predict that Okore will become an instant fan favourite as he has a habit of putting his body on the line when it is needed.
Perhaps one of the biggest signings of the summer was Lambert’s ability to keep hold of Benteke. This shows that Villa are no longer a selling club and instead are looking to build something much more special.
Pace to burn
The rapidly developing counter-attacking style is likely to cause many problems against the big clubs. We are yet to see how Villa will fare against mid-table teams that put bodies behind the ball. A bit more creativity could be needed but having an abundance of pace is never a bad thing and is certainly a good foundation to build on.
Whatever this season holds, Lambert’s side look to be in great shape and are sure to raise a few eyebrows this year!
Robert Williams from Discount Football Kits wrote this post. Discount Football Kits are one of the leading suppliers of Nike football kits in the UK, and love talking about all things football on their blog. Their main blogger is Sam Tighe, a lifelong Villa fan who also writes for Bleacher Report.