The close season so far: who would you pick?


Some people lose interest in the close season, especially the casual football fan; many of you don’t fall into the category and I don’t either. We are supporters of Aston Villa, so much so that we can’t live without it. Remove the pre-season games and transfers from summer and we’d all be keeping up with the progress of the groundsman. We have been spoilt this year; before pre-season started we had a very busy June indeed with 6 players in, which is unheard of. On top of that, a handful of our favourite players have signed new deals! The one negative so far was the transfer request from our favourite Belgian. T hat is irrelevant now he has withdrawn his transfer request and signed a new deal. Whether he goes next summer or not is not worth debating at this point. This incident proved to be a minor hiccup in our preseason and I’m sure we will forgive and forget, especially if he starts banging in the goals as we all think he will. Perhaps his first half hat-trick against Crewe was a signal of his intent.

I’m sure most of you have seen the highlights of our pre-season games so far. I thought rather than just tell you what I think about them I’d do something for a bit of fun. I’m going to create a starting 11 based purely on those I think have looked decent in pre-season so far. It will be structured by last season’s popular 4-3-2-1 formation and below in the comments section you have the chance to disagree or agree and present your own team of the pre-season campaign so far.

Now I know we have been stuck with draws all pre-season bar our 5-1 thrashing of Crewe and I know that so far it has been mainly about fitness but there have been a few pleasant surprises for me. Forced to play due to injuries or not, Grealish, Donacien and Carruthers (many would add Robinson, the only reason I haven’t is that I missed the majority of the second half of the Crewe game) have been three of the brightest sparks in my opinion. The former, although only getting 45 minutes against Wycombe, looked very tricky indeed, comfortable in his passing and able to win a couple of free kicks. Carruthers, with more game time under his belt, looks like he can stake a claim for a place in the starting eleven at some point over the season; he also has an assist to his name in the shape of Andi Weimann’s goal against SC Paderborn and has produced some very fluid displays.

Out of the new signings, Luna and Bacuna, the rhyming pair, have looked very exciting indeed – Bacuna, with a couple of assists, showing he can use both feet and provide some dangerous balls into the box. His stunning goal against Crewe only goes to show he may be the goal scoring midfielder we have been crying out for. At Groningen he was a winger and both of his assists so far have been from that position. However, it will be interesting to see if he moves into midfield next season as is anticipated (apparently box-to-box is his most comfortable position).

As far as forwards go, Weimann has created his much expected hard working displays and looks a player who will just keep getting better and better. Even the largely underrated (in my opinion) Jordan Bowery has looked handy but Helenius’s contribution can’t be ignored: he has produced two headed goals (not what he is known for) and has made some speculative yet dangerous shots.

Whilst I expect Guzan to be No.1 come August 17th against Arsenal, I have been extremely impressed with Jed Steer. Perhaps he is not just a back up and maybe he can give Guzan a serious run for his money.

Special Mention: Karim El Ahmadi – having had an underwhelming season last season, against Crewe he was arguably the best player on the pitch. His chipping pass for Benteke’s second was simply sublime. If he can produce that kind of form in the Premier League, I think we will have quite a player on our hands.

So, here is my team of preseason so far:











El Ahmadi






To reiterate, this is my team of pre-season. I personally believe it will be Agbonlahor instead of Helenius come the Arsenal game. For the record, I believe we play much better when Gabby is on the pitch, when we have that electric front three. I also think Sylla, Delph and Okore will be hard to ignore.

The first half against Crewe was as good as I have seen us play: the passing and movement was a wonder to behold. The real question is: will we be able to produce the same types of display against the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea?

What is your opinion? Who is in your team of the pre-season campaign so far? Discuss in the comments section below!


  1. Good article, A little bit to much babbling but the benchmark is v.good. Sylla for me would still get ahead of KEA but and I stress the BUT if he can continue that form I would play him without hesitation.

  2. It’s very difficult to say at the moment who the best eleven will be. My biggest concern, like most, is the defence. We have a lot of options up front and in midfield but the defence still looks porous at times and despite having motivational captincy qualities, Ron Vlaar still has a lot to prove this season as he has stated himself. Another problem is that the majority of our midfield are very similar and we need that playmaker to stand out. KEA is that player and if he can keep the form that he has shown in pre-season we might have that man. I think Tonev will be one to watch and could provide good service to Benteke and Weiman. I highly rate Sylla and thought Delph was the best player last season at Villa aside to the one and only Benteke! I think Delph and Sylla have personally cemented their places and KEA might be the one to complete the midfield depending on Lamberts formation. Bacuna has the energy and agression and clearly a powerful finish but I think his premier league game needs developing further. After all this waffle, my starting eleven would be:


    Good article by the way! UTV….

  3. Luke, no Westwood?

    I’m well pleased with how the squad is shaping up – but we need to sort out the defence, I don’t think this is a question of personnel, more organisation, positioning, tactics and ball retention

  4. Said it previously but I am surprised that Lambert has not bought in a specialist defensive coach after last season. All of the current coaches are CM’ers. Would love to see Laursen on the team – I know he wasn’t the best technically (dives in etc.) but I always loved his aggressiveness and commitment.

    Having said this, I think the defence will be better this season: They have an extra years experience and a full pre-season together; Vlaar will be better with a year; and Luna and Okore are good reinforcements.

    My team for the Arsenal would be:






    Bench of Steer, Clark, Okore, Sylla, KEA, Tonev, Helnius

  5. In the same 4-3-2-1 formation (4-3-3 depending on how you want to classify the two supporting strikers) I’d go as follows: guzan, lowton, okore, baker, luna, westwood, bacuna, delph, gabby, andi, benteke.

  6. I haven’t seen a single mention of Gardner so far! He’s definitely quality!

    My team would be:

    Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Luna
    Westwood, Delph, Bacuna
    Agbonlahor, Benteke, Weimann

    Steer, Okore, Clark, Gardner, Sylla, Tonev, Helenius

    I think that Clark’s best position is central midfield. Albrighton needs to be sold unless he proves himself this season, and I’m still not fussed on KEA. (Didn’t have the chance to watch the Walsall game though)

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