Momentum is the key word for this weekend.
Several of our players and staff had fruitful international breaks and if that success can be replicated for Villa then we have a chance to build some league momentum after a tough run of games.
Fabian Delph played an hour on Sunday against Estonia and contributed to a professional, if uninspiring, victory. He was tidy in possession and didn’t really put a foot wrong. He combined well with Wilshere and Henderson to provide the team with a solid midfield base upon which to build and was unlucky to be chosen as the player to make way in the second half.
Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland side drew with world champions Germany in dramatic circumstances, having previously smashed Gibraltar 7-0. Roy Keane helped to ensure that his Irish players matched the best team in the world so let’s hope he can do the same for the Villans this Saturday as they travel to Goodison Park.
Alan Hutton also had a great break, helping Scotland to beat Georgia and unluckily drawing with Poland, while Jores Okore managed ninety minutes in an U21 qualifier.
Our representatives, on the whole, did us proud while playing for their countries. There is now the chance for these players to bring their confidence and good form back to Aston Villa Football Club. Those who stayed behind have had the opportunity to regain fitness and energy after a brutal few fixtures so, on paper, the squad is in good shape before the big Everton match.
With players like Guzan, Given, Hutton, Vlaar, Senderos, Delph, Cleverley, Benteke, Bent, Agbonlahor, Cole and Sanchez, the squad currently has a nice balance of experienced internationals and exciting younger players like Westwood, Weimann, Grealish and Bacuna.
The squad is going to need that balance and depth if we are going to hold our own against teams like Everton that, in recent years, we have struggled against.
Perhaps the only downside to the international break is the injury that Senderos picked up. If Vlaar is not back by the weekend then there could potentially be some problems. I argued a few weeks ago that I thought, if fit, it was nearing the time to play Okore. I think that, having played the whole game against Iceland on Tuesday, the young Dane is ready. Clark is simply not up to it and if Okore is to be the long term partner for Vlaar so why not get him started now?
It will be interesting to see how we do against Everton on Saturday. I hope to see an accomplished and confident performance from players slowly regaining their feet and hoping to make Aston Villa a top half side once more.