Keepers: One In, One Out?

January 25, 2011 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Transfer News 

Aston Villa’s reserve keeper Brad Guzan has extended his loan spell at Hull City after impressing in a short spell at the in recent weeks. The American has made four league appearances for the Tigers and will now stay with the Championship outfit until the end of February. In his four games with Hull, Guzan has conceded four goals, picking up one clean sheet in the 2-0 home win over Barnsley. Guzan will have been hoping to impress Houllier since the manager’s arrival but has featured just once under the Frenchman in his first game as boss, the 3-1 League Cup victory over Blackburn. It seems the 26-year-old hasn’t sufficiently proved to his manager that he can replace compatriot Brad Friedel in the long-term with Houllier on the look out for new targets.

One of those targets is believed to be 23-year-old, England Under-21 international stopper Joe Lewis. Villa were rumoured to have had a £400k offer rejected by Lewis’ League One employers Peterborough, with chairman Barry Fry branding their offer as ‘crazy’. After hearing of Houllier’s interest Lewis submitted a transfer request and it is believed that Villa are set to up their efforts in signing 6’5″ stopper. He is one of a number of young English keepers, along with Scott Loach and Jason Steele, to have been touted with a move to Villa Park. The highlight of the highly rated youngsters career is undoubtedly a shock call-up to the senior England squad due to an injury crisis, though Lewis remained as an unused substitute for the friendlies against Trinidad & Tobago and the USA.

Weidenfeller Linked to Villa Free

December 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Transfer News 

With reports suggesting that veteran keeper Brad Friedel’s Villa time may be up at the end of the season, by which time he will have turned 40, Houllier has been linked to an array of goalkeeping talent at home and abroad. Despite being one of the club’s most consistent performers this season, barring a few blips (Blackburn in particular), it seems that Friedel will be surplus to requirements come the summer. Fellow American and Brad, Brad Guzan hasn’t really been given a hope by many sources of filling Big Brad’s, Big boots and has seen his chances extremely limited under Houllier. It has now been reported that Borussia Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller is interested in a move to the Premier League after his contract expires next summer with Villa emerging as favourites to land the German stopper. At 30-years of age the Dortmund player should be coming into his prime as a shot-stopper and seems reluctant to sign a new deal at the club after 9 years in with the side who are currently romping to victory in the Bundesliga and sit top, 11 points ahead of their closest rivals. The keeper has been first choice at Dortmund for the last 7 seasons and is in top form having kept 8 clean sheets from 16 appearances in the league, better than any other keeper. Villa have also been linked with a number of British keepers including Rangers’ Allan McGregor, Watford’s Scott Loach and Middlesbrough’s Jason Steele although a free transfer in the summer for the German may well be Houllier’s first choice.

Arsenal Reserves 0-2 Aston Villa Reserves

November 2, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Villa Reserves & Academy 

Kevin MacDonald’s men built on their decent run of form, following up a win over Midlands rivals Wolves, with a comfortable 0-2 victory over Arsenal. The former caretaker manager took a strong squad with him to London with first team members such as Brad Guzan, Eric Lichaj, Marc Albrighton, Barry Bannan and Nathan Delfouneso all in the starting XI. It was Delfouneso who broke the deadlock on the half hour mark stretching his impressive form in front of goal for the reserves and pushing himself into Gerard Houllier’s plans. With Villa severely lacking in fire power recently the talk has been of bringing in a new striker, one begs the question why are only proven goal-scorer at any level hasn’t been given a chance in the first team as of yet. The 19-year-old was supported superbly from either flank by Marc Albrighton and Samir Carruthers with the former setting crossing for the latter to head home Villa’s decisive second. An impressive performance, in a game which the away side dominated for much of the encounter. Reserves Match Report

Houllier’s Brilliant Big Brad Selection

October 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa, Match Reports 

Wednesday 27th October 2010

Aston Villa 2-1 Burnley (AET)

Villa have made it through to the Quarter Finals of the Carling Cup thanks to a 2-1, substitute inspired win over Burnley after extra-time. Villa dominated much of the first half and should have been in front but a lack of goals is still a real worry ahead of the Blues derby on Sunday. Burnley capitalised on Villa’s poor finishing and came out strongly in the second 45, putting the home side on the back foot for much of the half. It took substitutions from Houllier to change the game with Heskey and Downing both introduced to great effect. The former put the home side ahead with 5 minutes remaining but Villa failed to protect this lead with Burnley equalising on 89 through captain Clarke Carlisle. A stunning goal from Stewart Downing sealed victory for the hosts despite a Marc Albrighton red card in extra-time. Extended Report and Ratings

Aston Villa vs Burnley Pre-Match Prediction

October 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa, Pre-Match Predictions 

Gerard Houllier will be looking to capitalise on the opportunity to get back to ways against weaker opposition in Villa’s Carling Cup 4th round tie with Burnley. Defensive absences, notably with both starting full backs missing, will give Brian Laws men hope. I believe that the youngsters who impressed in the last round such as Bannan and Delfouneso joined by Albrighton and Clark will have enough to see off inferior opposition tomorrow night. The mix of this youth and experience from the likes of temporary captain Reo-Coker should provide the fans with another glimpse of the bright future ahead at Villa Park. Tough to call the starting line-up in this one ahead of Birmingham on Sunday so let me know who you think will be given the nod.

Burnley (Home) – 27th October 2010

Possible Staring XI: Guzan; Lichaj, Clark, Cuellar, Beye; Albrighton, Reo-Coker, Sidwell, Bannan; Ireland; Carew

Key Man: Marc Albrighton

Goalscorer(s): Sidwell, Carew, Albrighton

Minute of First Goal: 33

Final Score: 3-1

Aston Villa vs Burnley Match Preview

October 26, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Aston Villa, Injury News, Match Previews 

Wednesday 27th October 2010

Opponent: Burnley

Venue: Villa Park

Kick Off: 19:45

Villa will be hoping to take advantage of some shock exits in the Carling Cup to strengthen their chances of another Wembley date next year. The competition has seen the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham knocked out thus far leaving Villa as third favourites behind Manchester United and Arsenal. Houllier’s men will have to overcome a tricky 4th round tie against Championship outfit Burnley to reach the Quarter-Finals of the tournament which they have won on 5 occasions. New manager Gerard Houllier will have fond memories of the Carling Cup as it was his first trophy as Liverpool boss. He went on to secure another final victory in his time at Anfield and Villa will be hoping the Frenchman’s impressive record in the competition continues. The home side will be big favourites but injury problems and a huge game against Birmingham at the weekend could prove potential banana skins. Full Match Preview

Happy Days as the Fonz Topples Rivals Wolves

Kevin MacDonald’s reserve side continued their decent form, stretching their unbeaten run to five games with a 3-2 victory over Wolves. The second string came from behind for the second game on the trot in front of on-looking manager Gerard Houllier. Villa found themselves 1-0 down at the break but an amazing second half saw the home side run out victors. The two line-ups could have easily been placed in an early cup round with seasoned professionals on either side. The Villa side included the likes of Guzan, Cuellar and Sidwell supported by promising youngsters such as Barry Bannan and Nathan Delfouneso. Read more

Another Day, Another Manager

No longer than 12 hours after the Mail reported that Houllier was to be appointed at Villa Park, there has been another candidate thrown into the mix. The new-boy comes in the shape of former Italy boss Roberto Donadoni. Donadoni’s UK representative Charles Collymore, no relation to Stan, claimed that the 46 year old was interested in being the next man in charge.

“Roberto is a great student of the English game and he is very interested in the job at Aston Villa. He knows Villa are a top club with an ambitious owner and feels he could be a success there”

If the Italian was to take charge it would go completely against the criteria that the board stressed was so important in a new manager. Donadoni has no experience at Premier League level and doesn’t have any experience of club management in European competitions. Donadoni was something of a surprise replacement for Marcelo Lippi, who left after winning the World Cup in 2006. The ex-Milan player was given the job after an impressive record with Livorno, with whom he achieved a 9th place finish in the Serie A, way above expectations.

His managerial career started in 2001, just a year after hanging up his boots, with Lecco before joining Livorno with an extremely brief 3 game stint at Genoa saandwiched between his two spells at the club. The manager was relieved of his duties by Italy after being knocked out by eventual Champions Spain in the Euro’s on a penalty shoot-out in  the quarter finals and winning just 13 games of a 23 game reign. Since then he has managed Napoli but a short 7 month spell was ended after losing 8 from 18. This sort of record will endear Villa fans and the candidate is seen by many as a bigger name than reputation.

His representative went on to say that his client has always wanted to manage in England and feels that he has the credentials to make a success of himself at the club.

“Roberto has worked at the highest level and he has always dreamed of coaching in England. Roberto has the experience and talent to develop the best young English talent and also the knowledge to find the best foreign talent available.”

A foreign manager is looking increasingly likely and is something that most Villa fans are taking to the idea of. After MON seemingly refused to dip into the foreign transfer market, maintaining that the best of British would take the club to the next level, many fans see the possibility of signing a few foreign stars as favourable. Whether Donadoni is the man is debatable having a frankly mediocre managerial record, taking charge of 146 matches, winning 52, drawing 46 and losing on 48 occasions.

In other baffling news Aston villa have resigned ex-Norwich keeper Andy Marshall on a year’s contract as cover for Big Brad and Big Brad. The veteran 35 year old keeper has not started a single game for the club and but the deal will allow the likes of youngster’s Elliott Parish and Benjamin Siegrist to get some first team experience from potential loan moves.

UTV!

Kicked to the Curb?

Today’s main story at Villa Park surrounds an interview supposedly help with former player Alan Curbishley on Wednesday. The board hope to fill the managerial vacancy by the time Villa kick-off in their next league game against Stoke City next weekend. Curbishley who joined the club as a player from arch rivals Birmingham has been touted as a candidate since MON departed and it is now apparent that he was indeed shortlisted for the job. With the club stating that a manager with Premier League experience was a necessity, Curb’s has shot up to second favourite for the job. Whether this should be read in to too much is another matter as the favourite seems to be changing every other day but it is clear that the former Charlton and West Ham boss is in the frame.

So four days ago it was Koeman and two days ago it was Moyes, both of whom are still though to be in the running, but out of these three gaffer’s who would you most like to see at Villa Park?

Curbishley’s record is very decent at Premier League level considering the players he has dealt with. He took Charlton into the league before establishing them as a mainstay in and around mid table, a feat that hasn’t really been emulated since with Stoke looking the most likely. After leaving the Addick’s the club found themselves in turmoil as many a manager tried and failed to feel his boots. With West Ham he battled relegation and successfully so keeping the club up in a dramatic, down to the wire fashion before leaving two years ago. One main issue may be that he hasn’t managed since but this seems to have been through his own choosing as he is linked with nearly every job that has comes upon his departure. I hear he was very close to becoming a checkout girl at Sainsbury’s!

In other slightly less interesting news a 22 man squad was named yesterday with no shocks whatsoever from the 25 available places. Hopefully this paves the way for three superstars in January, who knows. The squad in full is;

Brad Friedel, Brad Guzan, James Collins, Carlos Cuellar, Habib Beye, Curtis Davies, Richard Dunne, Luke Young, Stephen Warnock, Eric Lichaj, Stewart Downing, Jonathan Hogg, Isaiah Osbourne, Stiliyan Petrov, Nigel Reo-Coker, Stephen Ireland, Steve Sidwell, Ashley Young, Moustapha Salifou, John Carew, Gabby Agbonlahor, Emile Heskey

If you’re wondering where the likes of Albrighton, Delfouneso, Delph and Clark are on the list they do not have to be submitted as they are under 21 and can be called upon at any time. They are joined by youth hopefuls such as Shane Lowry, Nathan Baker, Barry Bannan and Andreas Weimann.

In some positive news right back Luke Young has expressed his desire to stay at the club and move on after a difficult season last term. The ex-England international was strongly linked with a move to Liverpool this summer but opted against a switch and has started all three Premier League games thus far. This is great news as Young was unlucky not to play more last season after having a fantastic first season at the club and he looks back to his best now, especially in last weekend’s victory against Everton, netting the winner. This should mean that Cuellar, who is far from an inspired right back, should fight for a centre half spot, where he has turned in a number of impressive performances.

Although it is too late to get excited about since the deadline is passed, it is typical that Villa were linked with a player today. Sporting CP striker Yannick Djalo is rumoured to have been a deadline day target, although it is thought that the club may revive their interest in January. Djalo is a pacey, young striker who abused Manchester City scoring twice in a pre-season friendly earlier this summer so if we were to sign him it would be just grand if he could do that to them again later in the campaign because we don’t like them much!

UTV!

Aston Villa vs Rapid Vienna Match Report

August 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Match Reports 

Thursday 26th August 2010

Aston Villa     2 – 3     Rapid Vienna      (Rapid Vienna win 4-3 on aggregate)

The nightmare returned to Villa Park tonight as the Villains crashed out once more to Austrian outfit Rapid Vienna. It was exactly one year ago that Vienna came to the Midlands and managed a 2-1 defeat which saw them through on away goals. A case of lessons not being learned may have eventually lead to the home sides downfall once more and a feeling of de ja vu was not what the doctored ordered for Villa. Another penalty miss cost us dear and spurned opportunities at one end were only bettered, or worsened in this case, by woeful defending at the other.

Villa set up with a strong line up with recalls for fit again James Collins, Carlos Cuellar and perhaps not so fit again Gabby Agbonlahor. Brad Guzan kept his place in goal from the first leg though ever presents thus far, Stephen Warnock and Stewart Downing were rested alongside Richard Dunne.

Villa were unable to maintain a 2-1 lead in the game and could have been helped by a more convincing scoreline in the first leg to ease the same nerves that were present last time. MacDonald decided to field a weakened team in the first leg which was something that MON had done the season before and was punished for and, although the team that started should have managed to see off Vienna, some questions must be asked of the caretaker boss.

The game started well for Villa with a chance falling to Gabby Agbonlahor after just a minutes action. The pacey striker could only find the keeper’s gloves however with a left footed strike after a neat through ball from Ashley Young. Young was impressive throughout the first period and after a lovely ball from Petrov he delivered a teasing low cross that was this time converted by Agbonlahor. The signs were good for the home side who looked comfortable and new signing Stephen Ireland began to settle into the game and pull the strings for Villa.

A real blow occurred when Agbonlahor, who had been bright, pulled up with what appeared to be a calf strain and was replaced by Marc Albrighton in the 38th minute. The young winger played admirably once more upon his arrival into the game and engineered a chance for himself early in the second half which he dragged wide. Dismal defending from makeshift left back Habib Beye began what proved to be a defensive collapse. After dallying on the ball the full back failed to clear his lines before being dispossessed and the resulting cross was headed home well by Atdhe Nuhiu.

Ashley Young was then bought down in the box after a clear foul by Marcus Katzer but the referee overlooked the penalty claims. Moments later the home side were awarded a somewhat more dubious penalty for a supposed tug on Emile Heskey. Captain Stiliyan Petrov stepped up but his effort was tame and easily saved to the goalkeeper’s right before Heskey’s reputation preceded him missing the follow up when it was easier to score.

Villa did then make the breakthrough after a flicked effort by Petrov was saved and the ball was shipped back out to Ashley Young. The wideman delivered and the ball was half cleared to Habib Beye on the edge of the box who’s volley was turned in via the midriff of Heskey, his first goal since February. The travellers hit back immediately and went ahead on away goals after a confusing clearance by the shaky Curtis Davies went behind for a corner. The resulting corner lead to a flick off a Villa head finding Mario Sonnleitner who’s header just crept over the line after Guzan got a hand to it. The American stopper would have hoped for more as his feet slipped from beneath him and he failed to get a strong enough hand to the shot.

More poor defending by Habib Beye saw the visitors claim a breakaway third goal to kill off the match. The Senegalese international gave the ball away on the halfway line and was exposed out of position when substitute Christopher Trimmel picked out fellow bench warmer Rene Gartler to tap home. The striker was left free at the back post by Cuellar due to poor full back play, reinforcing the fact that the Spaniard is a centre half and should be employed in that position. Despite Villa’s best efforts, replacing Reo-Coker with Delfouneso and throwing James Collins up front, they could not conjure another goal and the sinking feeling returned to the Villa faithful.

Villa Player Ratings

Brad Guzan – 5 – unconvincing, should have done better with the 2nd Vienna goal

Carlos Cuellar – 5 – rusty, struggled for pace against winger and caught napping at the back post

James Collins – 6 – strong, good dominance and an attacking aerial threat

Curtis Davies – 5 – poor, obvious that he is not up to match fitness after months without playing

Habib Beye – 4 – dismal, at fault for 2 goals and nervous out of position

Nigel Reo-Coker – 6 – average, assured in possession but could have scored

Stiliyan Petrov – 6 – industrious, good ball retention but awful penalty

Stephen Ireland – 7 – promising, controlled and looked comfortable after slow start

Ashley Young – 6 – faded, superb start and assist but faded and became agitated, some poor crosses

Gabby Agbonlahor – 6 – injured, good until replaced with neat if simple finish

Emile Heskey – 7 – tireless, great work rate and link up from the big man who deserved his goal

Subs

Marc Albrighton – 7 – lively, ran at the defence and caused problems with decent delivery

Nathan Delfouneso – 5 – no time to impress, should have been used earlier

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