Who will be in Lambert’s starting XI?


Now the dust has settled on transfer deadline day, I have seen many Villa fans on various sites asking which players will form our strongest eleven. I decided to tackle this by sharing with you my thoughts on our strongest eleven. The diagram below shows how, potentially, I can see Paul Lambert’s team lining up in the near future.

Aston Villa Potential team

Lambert has some tough choices to make now that we have a well-assembled squad with plenty of competition in most key areas of the team. Last season, we were generally able to tell who would start every game but there is no longer quite so much certainty due to the depth of the squad and Lambert having had time to shape a side.

The formation: Trying to fit a formation to the players we have caused me some difficulty. In the end, I settled on a 4-2-3-1 but the diagram does not show where I believe Bacuna should be playing: in my opinion, he should play closer to Benteke to feed him the killer ball, to play the ball in to Gabby or Weimann to whip in a cross for Benteke or to cut in.

The players: The most important aspects of the team are the chemistry and the way the team gels. Also, who plays where will decide whether or not Aston Villa can really play as a team. This does whittle down the number of players who can play together as some players do not seem to click, not just in our team but in all teams: Gerrard and Lampard for England are well-known examples of good players who do not work well together.

Brad Guzan: His place in the team is not disputed as recently he has been on tip-top form. If only he were English…

Matt Lowton: He has not had quite as good a start to his second season at Villa Park as fans would have liked but he was formerly ‘Mr Consistent’ and is destined for greatness.

Ron Vlaar: Love him or hate him, he is a born leader and I believe we need him on the pitch this year. He seems to have freed himself from the injuries and obvious mistakes that riddled his first season in the Premier League and his organisational skills are vital to keeping the goals out. With more competition this term, Villa fans should expect greater consistency from the captain.

Jores Okore: Yes, he is young but he has experienced the Champions League, something that, sadly, nobody else in our team can boast about. His substitute appearance against Chelsea was solid, as he stopped many Chelsea attacks with well-timed tackles. In addition, he has excellent pace for a centre-back. I picked him over Nathan Baker for this reason but he will have stiff competition for a starting place.

Antonio Luna: The Spaniard has impressed since the word go, marking his Premier League debut with an excellent goal and offering some good defending and attacking in the other two league games this season. Joe Bennett is not Premier League quality in my eyes so the man nicknamed ‘Tony Moon’ can ensure his name finds its way on to the team sheet ahead of Bennett’s for future games.

Fabian Delph: Personally, I have never been a fan of Delph as I always said he looked like Mo Farah in figure and was not a Premier League footballer. However, he has, without a doubt, been our best player so far this season and he should be in the England squad to play Moldova and the Ukraine. His leadership qualities and ball distribution have been superb as well as his ability to cover the two centre-backs. Delph’s start to the season has truly changed my view of him.

Ashley Westwood: I think this guy is pure class and he reminds me of Paul Scholes or Michael Carrick: he plays a simple game and passes and moves very well. He can tackle, pick up the ball then make a great pass. It is fantastic to have someone like Westwood in the team.

Gabby Agbonlahor: Agbonlahor is another player who should be in the England squad but, in a way, I am glad he is not as every time he has been called up in the past he got injured while on international duty. He is now peaking at the right time and he may have finally found his position on the left wing, linking well with Luna and providing some great assists this season.

Leandro Bacuna: I feel I need to justify this choice. Bacuna has not played a big part for Villa yet. Nevertheless, I believe he is a great asset to our team. His pace and that wicked shot of his earn him a place in my team as he will soon frighten the life out of defenders as he runs at them. His ability to play in Christian Benteke in pre-season also contributed to my selection of this new signing.

Andreas Weimann: He gives 100%, even on a bad day. He plays with his heart on his sleeve like Paul McGrath used to. This is exactly what the team needs and I would like to see the same level of effort from all eleven players on the pitch. Weimann is yet to score in the league this season but he delighted fans with a fantastic finish in last week’s Capital One Cup game against Rotherham United and he will find the net in the Premier League soon.

Christian Benteke: Need I say any more about him? He is world-class and the hottest property in football right now.


What do you think? Leave a comment below to share your views.




  1. For now we’ve really got Guzan Lowton Okore Vlaar Luna Westwood Delph Weimann Agbonlahor Benteke + 1 other. That 1 could be any of our midfielders wingers or strikers depending on the formation.

    The only other places I consider under threat at the moment are Vlaar, because Lambert likes a left footer right footer combination at center back, and Weimann because he is prone to spells of poor form and other players could offer more threat creatively (Tonev/Helenius) or physically (Kozak/Bacuna).

  2. I am not impressed by Bacuna so far. Tonev, may be Helenius should play behind Benteke until Villa finds someone who understands and know how to play free role as main creative force in the attacking third. As far as I know, Bannan, Ireland and NZogbia too failed to master it.

    I mean, someone like Kagawa, Rosicky or Honda. I guess Tonev has been meant for this role, but I can be wrong. Time will tell.

  3. I do not get your comment about Lowton “He has not had quite as good a start to his second season at Villa Park as fans would have liked” – why? Because he did not score a screamer yet? I was not happy about substituting Lowton in the last match, because Bacuna can only dream about Lowton’s technique and crossing and Lowton’s quality attacking play was missing after he had went off the pitch.

    By the way, Sturridge’s goal was Okore’s mistake and if my memory serves me well, Gabby had a hand in it too. And nobody translated it as Okore did not play good…

    • Majkee – If you watch the game then you will understand his point. No-one has mentioned Lowton scoring a goal. And although I agree with you that Lowton’s crossing is decent – defensively (his ACTUAL job) has been poor and he has been caught out of position far to many times already in the opening 4 games.

      Also – I cant remember who’s fault the Sturridge goal was and maybe you are correct but Okore was still solid for the rest of the game so making a mistake doesn’t mean you had a bad game does it?

  4. I take issue with the opening post on three things:
    1. Delph has always been a fantastic footballer, he just needs to play in the right midfield set up and in his right position – driving from deep. He ran the show against Utd at VP under O’Neill but MON screwed that up when he didn’t react to Nani’s (I think it was) sending off. McLeish was ruining Delph, trying to turn him into a Makalele type. He is now getting a run in this position with Westy alongside and is benefitting. Future Villa captain and England regular for me.
    2. Westy is nothing like Paul Scholes. Carrick I accept. I even thought I interpreted your piece as suggesting that Paul Scholes could tackle – surely I misread it.
    3. The only position for debate in your XI, imo, is the one you have allocated to Bacuna. I have not seen enough of Bacuna or Tonev or Helenius to call this, but I expect this will be rotated anyway. I would go solid against the top 6 sides and away at the likes of Everton and Swansea with a KEA or Sylla alongside Delph and Westy in a 4-3-3 but more expansive at against the bottom 14 with a Tonev or Helenius in the middle of the 3 in a 4-2-3-1.

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