Player Review: Ciaran Clark’s Best Position?

February 3, 2011 by · 4 Comments
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Ciaran Clark is one of a number of youngsters at Villa Park to have broken through the ranks at the club and staked his claim for a starting berth in Gerard Houllier’s plans. The defender will have been used to playing with the likes of Barry Bannan and Marc Albrighton but will no doubt have been as surprised young Villa counterparts to have played such an integral role this season. Fellow 21-year-old, winger Marc Albrighton may have taken the headlines of the three but it has been Clark who has perhaps been most assured in making the step up into senior team football. Clark, who opted to play for the Republic of Ireland alongside team-mate Richard Dunne over England last year, has undoubtedly been asked the most out of, from all of the up and coming stars and indeed perhaps the whole squad. Coming through the youth and reserves set-up as a goalscoring centre-back, Clark has had to show his competence as much in an attacking sense as in defending this year having played in centre midfield and left back during the course of the season. His reputation of being capable of bagging the odd goal has transferred into the full squad having netted 4 times in all competitions against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Blackburn. It now seems that the naturally left footed defender may have to settle for a place at left back with former senior team regular Stephen Warnock falling way down in Houllier’s rankings after expressing an interest in leaving the club. So we have seen plenty of Clark this season, but to which position is he best suited. To read my thoughts on the matter click here

Fergie Targets £30m Clark and Young Package Deal

January 11, 2011 by · 4 Comments
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Alex Ferguson is believed to be keen to revive an aging squad with the additions of Villa duo Ciaran Clark and Ashley Young in the summer. Reports have been suggested due to the likes of golden oldies Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville coming to the end of their careers. A touted offer of £30m is apparently being lined up and with Ashley Young’s contract running out at the end of next season, one must assume that a sizeable chunk of that fee would be spent on the young Villa defender who has broke into the Villa first team this year in three different positions. Clark, who decided to commit his international future to Ireland over England, has impressed in roles in his natural centre back position as well as in midfield and at left back, netting 3 goals in the process. Young has been linked to United for a number of seasons but fears that the 25-year-old could leave the club are becoming all too real after the England international refused to commit his future to the club. The opposite applies for Clark who signed a long term extension on his current deal a couple of months back. What do you make of the fee? If the story was true I would doubt that it would be that high with Young’s contract winding down. Who do Villa need to keep the most out of the two and would selling a youngster such as Clark, send out the wrong message, attracting interest in the likes of Albrighton and Bannan in the process?

Bridge to Choose Between Villa and West Ham

January 10, 2011 by · 2 Comments
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It has been confirmed that both Aston Villa and West Ham have had loan offers for Manchester City left back Wayne Bridge accepted by the Eastlands club. The England international full-back is now set to decide on which club he would like to sign for on a temporary contract until the end of the current season. The decision is made harder for the defender with both Avram Grant and Gerard Houllier under fire with the former in particular, thought to be unlikely to be in a job by the end of the month. If Bridge were to join Villa it may well spell the end of a short tenure at the club for Stephen Warnock, whose mediocre displays this term have not gone unnoticed by his manager. Rumours that he will be offloaded back to former club Blackburn in a bid to exchange Christopher Samba remain rife in the media. Bridge is hoping to regain first team football after falling way down the pecking order at City but may feel that this is more of a certainty at bottom club West Ham, with Ciaran Clark filling in admirably in Warnock’s absence. The 30-year-old is thought to be ready to commit to one or the other clubs in the next two days, ahead of a derby day visit to Birmingham were he to make the shorter trip to the Midlands. Discuss…

Aston Villa vs Liverpool Pre-Match Predictions

December 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
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Here are my predictions for this Monday’s game with Liverpool. I’m equally optimistic and pessimistic ahead of the match which will see Houllier return to Anfield. An uncertain defence of late doesn’t look like keeping a clean sheet any time soon against a Liverpool team who made a host of chances against Tottenham last week. On a positive note Agbonlahor looked sharp against City and we dominated the game despite defeat so I think we will get a few chances against a Liverpool defence devoid of Carragher and Agger. I’m hopeful of returns for Cuellar and Albrighton but may well be wrong! What do you think will be the score and who will feature in tomorrow night’s 8pm kick-off?

Possible Starting XI: Friedel; L Young, Dunne, Cuellar, Warnock; Albrighton, Clark, Hogg, Downing; Ireland; Agbonlahor

Key Man: Gabby Agbonlahor

Goalscorer(s): Agbonlahor, Ireland

Minute of First Goal: 53

Final Score: 2-2

Liverpool vs Aston Villa Match Preview

December 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
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Monday 6th December 2010

Opponent: Liverpool

Venue: Anfield

Kick Off: 20:00

Gerard Houllier will make an emotional return to Liverpool in Monday night as he takes his Villa side to Anfield in desperate search of a win. The Frenchman will no doubt have had his eye on this fixture since moving to Villa and his ties with the club are just one of a number of potential reunions. Houllier’s No.2 Gary McAllister was brought to the club by the manager is a playing capacity and in a short stint with the club the Scotsman became a cult hero. Among the playing staff to have plied their trade in Merseyside include Brad Friedel, Stephen Warnock and Emile Heskey, though the striker is unlikely to feature through injury. Extended Match Preview

Hogg and Gardner Sign New Contract Extensions

December 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
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Jonathan Hogg has become the fifth product of the Villa academy to commit his long-term future to the club in recent months. After a torrid time with injuries the workman-like central midfielder has turned his Villa career around and earned a new two-and-a-half year deal with the club. Hogg has started 4 games thus far for Houllier’s side including impressive performances on his Premier League debut in the 2-2 draw with United and a battling display at local rivals Birmingham. The 21-year-old has not been overawed in some massive games for the club and his sufficiently impressed the new manager for him to hand Hogg a new contract. Hogg joins the likes of Ciaran Clark, Barry Bannan and Marc Albrighton to sign long-term deals with the Villa youngsters offering a glimmer of hope in what should be a bright future after hard times of late. In other news 18-year-old midfielder and brother of former player Craig, Gary Gardner has also signed a new contract with the club. Gardner is returning to fitness after a lengthy spell on the sidelines with cruciate ligament damage stunted a youth season in which he had managed an impressive 14 goals from the centre of the park. The England Under-20 international is hoping to follow the likes of Hogg into the first team and has earned himself a new a contract extension until 2014.

Aston Villa Performances Overshadowed by Dismal Results

December 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
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After a day to grieve over what was really a hit and run from the Blues on Wednesday I have had time to reflect and collect my thoughts! It seems at the moment that Aston Villa cannot buy a win and if you can find me a manager whose new job has started with worse luck then Gerard Houllier I’m all ears. A dominant and much improved performance from the forgettable 0-0 draw at Villa Park last month still saw Villa knocked out of the League Cup. A Semi-final with West Ham awaited which almost had me sobbing into my lonely corner of shame as Villa looked to build on their Final appearance last season. Without sounding too much like a broken record, Villa couldn’t really have been missing many more players once again against the Blues though a goal-scoring return did give us fans something to cheer. Still, poor defending in the first half and a lack of cutting edge meant that all Villa’s possession and passing football came to nothing in a 2-1 defeat at St Andrews.

Extended Match Report and Ratings

Aston Villa Face Blues in Must Win Quarter Final: Match Preview

November 29, 2010 by · 2 Comments
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Villa travel the short journey to St. Andrews in what is a massive League Cup Quarter Final draw with fierce rivals Birmingham City. The two sides met last month, producing probably the dullest derby in decades and a strong contender for worst Premier League game of the season. Villa were riddled with injuries and remain severely depleted as they look to turn around a poor run of results. A spirited comeback against Arsenal on Saturday was all in vain due to a dire first half display but did encourage some fans ahead of the nail biting clash on Wednesday. Houllier’s side have won just 1 in 9 in the league though they qualified for this stage of the cup with a tense 2-1 extra-time win over Championship Burnley. Birmingham reached the Quarter Finals at the expense of League One Brentford who pushed the Blues all the way but were beaten in a penalty shoot-out. Read more

Villa Continue Dismal Recent Record

November 28, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa, Match Reports 

Gerard Houllier finds his Aston Villa team in an increasingly large rut following a 4-2 defeat to Arsenal due to an abysmal first half performance. The Villans have now won just one game in their last nine Premier League matches coming from an edgy 3-2 win over a massively under strength Blackpool side. The Arsenal loss was Villa’s first league defeat at home and despite a spirited second half fight back Houllier’s men were unable to overturn what was a fortunate 2-0 deficit by half time. Read more

10 Games in: Gerard Houllier’s Record and Review

Many neutrals and Villa fans had their doubts over the appointment of Gerard Houllier 2 months ago but how has he really done in his opening 10 games at the club. The pessimistic may have seen the choice of the Frenchman as somewhat of a sideways step after his tenure at Liverpool was left on a low point with the Anfield club. Despite this, Houllier had a terrifically successful spell at the club leading them to Community Shield, UEFA, FA, League Cup (x2) and Supercup glory, a feat which has surpassed any of his successors at Liverpool. After health issues seemed to stunt his progress with the club, many in the Merseyside remember Houllier as a negative and uninspired tactician as he looks to answer the critics who doubted him. Villa have had a stop-start season to say the least and some impressive performances and results have been overlooked due to the sides current inability to close out games. Here is why I believe the new manager has done a decent job in his opening 10 fixtures and why Villa should not be counted out of a European finish. In-depth Managerial Review

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