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.
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.