Agbonlahor Set to Suffer from Bent Buy?

January 24, 2011 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Hot topic debates 

Gabby Agbonlahor has had a disappointing campaign for Villa this term in a season which began with injury and a lengthy lay-off with a groin injury. Despite returning to fitness the striker has failed to score in the Premier League this season in over 1000 minutes of action. The 24-year-old did net one in the Europa Cup Qualifying Round and another to extend on a decent record against Birmingham in the League Cup but has struggled in front of goal all season. His lack of goals has led Houllier to look to alternative options for the rapid frontman who has recently been moved onto the left wing. Martin O’Neill adopted a similar strategy upon joining the club, deploying Agbonlahor in a wide right position to decent effect. Agbonlahor has clearly worked on his delivery and his crossing has improved. His pace is an obvious asset for any winger but he lacks the flair of Albrighton or Young, adopting a more gun-ho approach. With the club having recently completed the record signing of Darren Bent, could Agbonlahor’s chances become limited without goals in his locker. Houllier is a huge fan of Emile Heskey who has been in outstanding goalscoring form compared to his usual self. Heskey has scored a goal every 150 minutes in all competitions with a record far superior to that of Agbonlahor. With Carew already forced out by the marquee signing of Bent I feel that Gabby may have to settle for a place on the bench soon if his form doesn’t pick up. If he were to play on the wing he still isn’t hitting the same sort of form of Albrighton and Downing so I feel he may miss out against Wigan with the arrival of Makoun and return of Heskey further increasing competition for places. I would have to say that a partnership of Bent to play off Heskey, a man who has benefited the likes of Rooney and Owen in games for England and Liverpool respectively, would be a more profitable one than that of Bent and Agbonlahor, which would no doubt offer one of the quickest strike forces in the league but could be somewhat one-dimensional. Who do you think should be the starting strike partnership? Do you feel that the current system of a lone striker should stay in place, further limiting the chances of the likes of Agbnonlahor?

Heskey Villa’s Best Player This Season? Average Player Ratings

January 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa 

Around about the half way mark of Villa’s season, I would like to know who you think, that when they have played, has been Villa’s highest consistent performer this season. According to the Average Ratings section of the site, based on individual ratings after every performance, I make much maligned striker Emile Heskey to be the best player this season, just ahead of youngster Marc Albrighton and Ashley Young who come in second and third respectively. In a season hampered by injuries, Heskey has proved an integral part of a flailing Villa set up and is missed in his absence with the likes of John Carew and Gabby Agbonlahor yet to score a single league goal. In just 9 starts in all competitions, the 31-year-old has scored 6 times, coming off the bench on 4 occasions. A pretty good record for someone who, I would use the saying couldn’t finish his dinner but he clearly can, and has been lovingly named donkey by sections of the Villa support. Do you agree that the big man has been the surprise package this season or have the likes of Albrighton out shone his performances this season? The full ratings are published in the following link with some pretty poor performer’s outweighing the decent ones it seems! Full Player Ratings Table

Houllier Welcomes Heskey Return Ahead of Derby

December 9, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Aston Villa, Injury News 

Villa striker Emile Heskey is set to recover from a knee injury which has kept him out for over a month, just in time to face Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. The 32-year-old had recaptured some form when reunited with former boss Gerard Houllier but a decent run of 3 goals in 6 (unheard of for Heskey!) was cut short by an injury picked up in one of the new manager’s double training sessions at the end of October. The forward needed surgery on the knee but proceedings went well and the ex-England international should be in for a timely return to face Di Matteo’s side.  Nigel Reo-Coker had his first training session with the senior side yesterday but Houllier revealed he is unlikely to feature at the weekend and captain Stiliyan Petrov should return to training within the next few weeks. Speaking about the progress of Heskey, Houllier was full of praise of the big man stating:

“Emile will definitely be involved on Saturday. It’s down to other people to analyse the minutes we’ve played with Emile, the goals he’s scored and made. But you would see the difference, he works hard for the team and we’ve missed him.”

With regards to the impending return of Petrov and Reo-Coker, he said:

“Petrov is ahead of schedule and in two weeks he should be back in training.

“Reo-Coker had his first full training session with us on Wednesday. I’d be surprised if he is in contention (for Saturday).”

Liverpool vs Aston Villa Match Preview

December 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Match Previews 

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

Villa Injury Update Ahead of Liverpool Trip

December 4, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Injury News 

Barry Bannan is the latest player to join the Villa Park injury list. The young midfielder limped off in the 2-1 defeat to Birmingham in midweek with a groin injury and is unlikely to recover in time for the trip to Anfield on Monday night. Gerard Houllier was erring on the side of caution as he didn’t want to aggravate the problem which would only deplete his squad further. Speaking in a press conference on Friday, Houllier stated:

“I don’t think Barry will be able to play. I’ve got my doubts because it is a groin strain which he picked up against Birmingham.”

Positive News on the Long-Term Injury Front

Aston Villa Performances Overshadowed by Dismal Results

December 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Match Reports 

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

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

Aston Villa vs Blackpool Match Preview

November 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Match Previews 

Wednesday 10th November 2010

Opponent: Blackpool

Venue: Villa Park

Kick Off: 19:45

Villa will be looking to put a turbulent week off the field in the past with a winning performance on it as the Midlands club play host to newly promoted Blackpool. Gerard Houllier must have been ready to celebrate when his side went into the 94th minute of the weekends match with Fulham 1-0 up. A last minute equaliser from Brede Hangeland crushed Villa hearts to put a dampener on an otherwise impressive performance. The result means that Houllier’s side are now without a league win in 5, during which the clubs only two goals have come from Marc Albrighton. Blackpool are having a decidedly happier time in their debut Premier League season having shocked fans and pundits alike to see themselves in the dizzying heights of the top half. Villa lay in 14th place in the league just 3 points above the drop zone but also just 3 points off a 6th placed finish in a tight league table. Extended Match Preview

Hero to Villain – Albrighton Pays Penalty for Late Foul at Fulham

November 6, 2010 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Aston Villa, Match Reports 

Aston Villa missed the chance to climb the Premier League table with a win at Fulham after the hosts equalised in the 95th minute to break Villa hearts. Villa came into the game without a win in 4 and without a goal in 3. These daunting stats were worrying with Villa missing their 3 senior strikers going into the game. A first start for Nathan Delfouneso was the result of Houllier’s injury woes but it was the last Villa player to score a league goal, Marc Albrighton, who gave Villa the lead. The manager also handed a start to youngster Barry Bannan who impressed and set-up the goal expertly. Villa could not hang onto their lead from the first half and dramatic late equaliser from Brede Hangeland but a sever dampener on an encouraging display. Goal-scorer, Albrighton was left with his head in his hands after needlessly giving away the free-kick which assisted the late and bitter blow to the visitors. Extended Match Report

Fulham vs Aston Villa Pre-Match Prediction

November 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa, Pre-Match Predictions 

Aston Villa visit Craven Cottage on a poor run of form having not one in four games. The reason, a lack of goals with their last coming in the 16th minute of the 2-1 defeat to Tottenham almost a month ago. Gerard Houllier has not been helped in trying to solve this issue after injuries to John Carew and Emile Heskey see them join Agbonlahor on the sidelines. Youngster Nathan Delfouneso will be in charge of goal-getting in what is set to be his first league start for the Villa after 2 seasons on the fringes.

Fulham (Away) – Saturday 6th November

Possible Starting XI: Friedel; L Young, Dunne, Collins, Warnock; Albrighton, Reo-Coker, Clark, Downing; A Young; Delfouneso

Key Man: Marc Albrighton

Goalscorer(s): Nathan Delfouneso

Minute of First Goal: 28

Final Score: 1-1

Next Page »