On September 21st something that didn’t happen at all during the previous season occurred when Matty Lowton was left out of the line up. The former Sheffield United man was not injured or even carrying a knock; Paul Lambert left him out because he was not showing the same high level of performace as in the previous campaign.
Since Matty Lowton was dropped he has struggled to regain his place, only starting one match, which was the 0-4 hammering we took against Spurs in the Cup. That was a largely second string side and it’s fair to say Lowton didn’t make a glorious comeback that night. Indeed, none of the players showered themselves in glory, with the possible exception of Albrighton.
Has Lowton been unfortunate? Should he have been afforded more time to regain his form?
Lambert perhaps did not envisage keeping Lowton out for this long: Bacuna has been quite good considering full back is not his favoured role and it is my belief that Leandro Bacuna will only get better as time goes on.
After seeing Lowton taken out of the firing line, it is surprising that this hasn’t happened to anyobody else this season, especially as Lowton appeared to be one of Lambert’s first picks last season – and rightly so.
I’m not one for scapegoating, and this article is not for that purpose, but is Lowton unfortunate to have been the only one dropped or taken out of the limelight? Who are the other candidates to be taught a ‘Lambert lesson’?
Ashley Westwood was my favourite player last season; I have him on the back of my shirt this season. Westwood has certainly not been as good as he was last season.
Westwood is one player who I think would benefit from a few games out of the side like Lowton. He looks low on confidence to me and we do have other options in central midfield. This means we can afford to rest him for a few games. Sylla must be chomping at the bit to start a game and El Ahmadi must have felt very hard done by to be benched against Everton since the Villa number 8 has been in good form.
Clearly, Ashley Westwood is one of Lambert’s favourite and perhaps it’s hard to argue with that: the consistency he showed last season was most impressive for someone who made the step up from the lower leagues. I just feel a break would do him good as he could then come in recharged and refreshed. I’ll make no bones about it, this man is a key player for us but he has dipped and if Lowton was taken out due to a drop in form then it wouldn’t be harsh for our gaffer to do the same to Ashley Westwood.
Some of the guff I have seen directed against Andi has been completely unjustified. The Austrian played a pivotal role in keeping us up last year and was up there with Benteke and Guzan, for me at least. I agree he is not in the best of form but to write him off completely is unjustified and farcical.
However, I do think he should definitely be left out on Saturday. He is trying too hard to get back to the level of last season and if he relaxes the form will come back.
I did feel it was odd that against Everton Weimann was wide and Agbonlahor was central. In my opinion, it would have made more sense for the roles to be reversed as Gabby Aghbonlahor is more effective out wide than Andi Weimann is while Weimann offers more up top than Agbonlahor.
The crux of the situation for me is again that if Lowton has been left out because of poor form then the precedent has been set and Andi Weimann should sit a few games out as well.
I would actually think about bringing Lowton in for Weimann and moving Bacuna further forward. Bacuna appears to be a good dribbler and is quite direct, which means that Bacuna and Lowton bombing down the right touchline could actually offer us a new dimension, for a few matches at least.
Another player I have seen mentioned on social networks as being at risk of being demoted to the substitutes’ bench is Gabby Agbonlahor. Personally, I think that’s a daft suggestion.
Gabby has had a couple of off games but I feel his injury has probably set him back a bit. He has been unplayable at times and he is a weapon. His pace, even during a bad game, offers an outlet and creates space for others and the opposition are frightened of him.
He should have scored on Saturday; he will know that and be more frustrated than anyone else by his failure to do so – that’s Agbonlahor. Unfortunately, he is not as clinical as we would like. Nevertheless, his pros more than outweigh his cons.
It seems that he is injured now so he may miss out anyway but I believe a fit Agbonlahor should be one of the first names on the team sheet; I’m fairly sure Paul Lambert feels the same.
With that, I make my way back to Matty Lowton. He is not alone in starting this season at a lower level than the last one but he is the only player who has been demoted because of it. He is a really good footballer so I hope he comes roaring back – and I think that he will do just that. If he does then Lambert’s decision will have been justified. It remains to be seen if Lowton will be the only one to be sidelined due to a dip in form this season.
Let me know what you think by commenting below and, as always, keep the faith.