Will Others Get a Lowton Lesson?

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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

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.

Andi Weimann

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.

Gabby Agbonlahor

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.

4 comments

  1. I have noticed that all the afore mentioned players, apart from Gabby, signed new contracts last season. Although these players deserved the praise and Villa wanting to tie them up to longer contracts, I want to pose the following question. Have these players taken their foot off the gas because they are on more money and have maybe been a little naive to think they only have to turn up to perform. I know that is probably not the case because they all seem committed to the cause, its just spooky that they all signed new contracts?

    Another person who is not mentioned is Benteke. Even though he has had an injury, I have noticed that his ball control has totally disappeared. I am sorry, but I do not buy in to the excuse that he has been out and will be a little rusty. He is a professional footballer who trains every day and has been playing for x amount of years, I used to go weeks/months without a game because I was also an egg chaser, but if I played football I could still control the ball and complete a basic pass to someone.

    I totally agree with your observations and I think all the players should know they need to perform or else. I also agree that they might be trying too hard to maintain the levels they achieved last season and should relax and get back to enjoying the game again and not be effected by the pressure. I also think that sitting back and inviting teams to attack is not a good confidence builder either though. We have footballers in the squad that can pass the ball around and I feel its basic football reasoning that if the other side have not got the ball they can not score………. simples.

  2. Westwood and Weimann are the classic example of the phrase “One season wonders”
    Yes they did well at the back end of last season, back when they realised ‘Shoot, we need to pull our socks up or we could be playing Championship’
    Westwood was only ever good when given a shed load of time on the ball to pass side to side, which this season isn’t happening and IMO he is well and truly out of his depth in the prem.
    I hope im proved wrong though but I cant see it.

  3. I feel that Weimann and Gabby should drop down (it might be that we have no choice with Gabby) and, if we are going to play 4-4-2, lets see Helenius off Tekkers and Bacuna at RM with Lowton back in. I might also consider Luna (again may be enforced after his early exit last week), with either Bennett (getting a chance after a decent performance against Spurs) or Clark at LB.

    I think Westy is suffering a bit at the minute from the formation changes and the lack of a proper no. 10. If we are playing against a three man CM we are exposed with two men but if we play a three then the balance has not been right. KEA doesn’t have the energy to come in and play as an ACM and is, therefore, sitting in the same spaces as Westy and forcing Westy to change his game. Personally, I would have loved to see us bring in a no. 10 but we didn’t and I’m not convinced Tonev, the Zog or Gardner can play that role. As such, I would prefer to see a formation where we play Westy sitting, Delph box to box on the left of a three and Sylla/Bacuna box to box on the right – the three of Westy, Delph and Sylla was at the core of our good run at the end of last season and provided the freedom for Andi and Gab to be a bit more flexible/move around/operate centrally at times.

  4. I agree with much of what you have written. Especially, I would like to see Bacuna moved forward with Lowton back at right back. Bacuna’s defensive ability would also give support to the back four. I don’t know if I’d actually drop Andi Weimann because of his workrate, but he should definitely be subbed during the game when it’s not happening for him. Helenius needs more playing time and would be a good sub for Andi. Or bring Kozak on with Benteke to change the dynamics. I also agree that Gabby should play out wide.

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