The Villans’ performance against Liverpool was gutless and the hosts were devoid of any of the attributes that a team needs to play in the Premier League. Suffice to say that Sunday’s game has left me feeling utter despair as an Aston Villa fan.
It’s time to accept that this is not a Premier League team: it simply isn’t good enough to compete at this level week in, week out. You can point to injuries and suspensions but the fact remains that this squad is one of the weakest in Aston Villa’s proud history. I regard myself as a positive fan but what I witnessed on February 14th sucked any remaining positivity out of me.
Rémi Garde acknowledged the lack of effort and promised to find eleven players willing to fight for the cause. Who are they going to be?
Do we have a team of fighters?
Being out of the League and FA Cups gives much maligned fans a welcome break but next week we’ll take on a resurgent Stoke City team at the Britannia Stadium, with claret and blue confidence back to rock bottom.
You could argue that results don’t matter now as relegation was all but guaranteed on Valentine’s Day, if not before. However, Aston Villa Football Club needs to restore some pride. The team that woefully underperformed against Liverpool will need to be ripped asunder if the club can salvage some dignity so who should start against Stoke City?
Guzan or Bunn?
What a choice this is! It’s like someone asking if you’d prefer a punch in the face or a knee to the gut. Flip a coin. I don’t care.
Overhaul the defence
This is one area where we have options, albeit not great ones. Lescott will need to be dropped following “text-gate”, as will Richards, who is a mess at right back.
Without too many other choices at left back, I’d start Lyden, Clark, Okore and Cissokho.
I’m a big fan of Veretout but have to say that his performance against Liverpool was not good enough. Bacuna put in what was possibly one of the worst Villa midfield performances I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen Sylla and Djemba Djemba play! Both have to drop out so I’d try a midfield three of Sánchez (injury permitting), Westwood and Gana. I would have considered Bacuna at right back and then given Lyden a start in midfield but Bacuna’s last performance was so awful that I think Garde needs to drop him permanently.
Agbonlahor is a shadow of the player he should be. He still seems overweight and appears to have lost his pace, which was his only real weapon. I fail to see the point in playing him right now so he’s out. Gil has been relatively ineffective recently but he is one of our only creative options. Assuming he’s shaken off his ankle injury by Saturday, I’d give Jack Grealish a start.
Playing with Gil and Grealish means we wouldn’t have much width so we’d need a mobile striker. That rules Gestede out therefore I think it’s time to try one of the young lads up top. Davis has made the bench for the last two league games so he seems like the obvious choice, although I’d like Garde to try Sellars, who’s been scoring for fun for the Under-21s.
Is this a team of fighters?
On paper, this isn’t a team that would worry many Premier League opponents but, without many other options, it will at least mix things up a bit. I’d be more than happy to see Garde go all out with youth and try Calder and Mason in midfield and when Hepburn-Murphy is fit he should certainly be involved in the first team squad.
I doubt Garde’s team will be close to my suggestion. Whichever starting XI he picks, the players will need to display ten times more fight than we saw against Liverpool to even compete with Stoke City. Do we have a team of eleven fighters available? I really doubt it.