These days I wouldn’t thank Martin O’Neill for much but one thing I certainly would thank him for though is signing Fabian Delph back in August 2009.
Delph had a big reputation when arriving at Villa Park as a 19-year-old from Leeds United. He never really lived up to his potential in his first three seasons at the club, although that could be down to the changing of managers, with each having a different opinion on which position suited Delph best, or the cruciate knee ligament injury he sustained in training in April 2010 which kept him out of the team until the February of the following year. All of this, plus a loan deal back at Leeds cut short by injury, kept Delph from ever having a continuous run in the team.
However, as of last season, things changed. Under Lambert Delph has flourished, especially since February/March last season. His ability on the ball is outstanding and it has actually taken me by surprise. I’ve seen him surrounded by four opposition players and still come away with the ball. Not only that but his tenacity and energy is second to none. Once lambasted by fans for his reckless tackling, he seems to have developed a great ability for reading the game, making interceptions and being in the right place at the right time rather than using his pace and lunging in after being caught out of position. Despite good performances from his fellow midfielders this evening at Chelsea, I’m fairly confident that Delph could have held midfield on his own. Okay, this is a slight exaggeration – but I don’t care!
His progression has continued in the first two games of this season against Arsenal and Chelsea. In my opinion, he was ‘Man Of The Match’ on both occasions, dominating, and at times out-classing, far higher valued opposition, even though Villa had less of the ball.
I’ve got to be honest: I forgot over the summer how good Delph had become over the latter stages of last season, perhaps because he was suspended for a couple of games. I even thought Delph may not be in the starting XI for the season opener at The Emirates. Needless to say (but thank goodness), Paul Lambert knows a lot better than me.
It’s a sign of the kind of squad we have that Delph is yet another contender, alongside Westwood, Lowton, Guzan, Clark, Baker and Gabby, to be captain should the armband ever be moved on.
Keep it up, Fabian: you’re doing us all proud! I expect you to start hitting the back of the net soon too!
Just a little bit on tonight’s game at Stamford Bridge.
Let’s ignore the referee, shall we? He’s an incompetent moron.
I was pleased to see Vlaar respond to his questionable performance at The Emirates with a brilliant display against Chelsea. I thought he was absolutely fantastic. Keep it up, Ron!
Okore came on for Clark (who had looked solid up until that point) and, despite a few shaky moments early on, looked outstanding. I’ve got to admit I didn’t know a great deal about him. His pace and power is astonishing. However, his reading of the game and positioning look excellent, especially when you consider he’s only just turned 21!
Luna seems to get better by the game; I even think he out-muscled Lukaku at one point late on. El-Ahmadi looks like a new player and Gabby could well be 20 again.
Despite the result, we have a lot to be optimistic about, Villa fans!
Thank you for reading.