Aston Villa’s 1-0 victory over Reading was the clubs first victory in four league games. The result of this is that the club sat in the relegation places before beating Reading (they are now 17th). This would lead many to believe that the club are in crisis and will be locked in a relegation battle. However, the truth is, things are actually going a lot better than they seem at Villa Park.
The three games that they just went without victory included an away trip to City and two home games against United and Arsenal. Many teams would come out of these three games with zero points, but Villa earnt a point on Saturday against Arsenal as well as pushing United very close in a 2-3 thriller a few weeks back. Things could have of course been better this season, with Villa fans having hoped that their side would have been clearer of the drop, but there is an evolution underway at Villa.
Lambert has a hard job on at Villa. He has to overhaul a negative style of play associated with McLeish and re-invent Villa as a more progressive, attractive football side, something he is doing, slowly, but surely. He is doing away with the old style of play by benching players such as Darren Bent, a proven goal-scorer but not a very effective team player. Lambert took the somewhat unpopular call of bringing in 21 year old Benteke, who has much more to his all round game than Bent. (A topic I discussed previously here). Lambert is relying on youth to re-invigorate his side with 8 of the players who started against Reading being under the age of 25, quite an impressive feat. No starters were over the age of 28.
The side have always possessed good youngsters, but they are now performing a lot better, having been well integrated such as Bannan and Clark, who have blended well with new signings Benteke, Vlaar and Ahmadi. This has coincided with a much needed return to fitness for Gabby Agbonlahor. Whilst Heskey, Collins and Cuellar were notable players who were allowed to leave the club. As such, Lambert will need time and possibly some finances to fully adapt the squad to his style of play. It is thus likely that Bent will be moved on in the next window, with Lambert using the money to sign more players.
Things might not be plain sailing yet, Villa do have some difficult games coming up. This weekend’s trip to QPR might not be easy considering they could be rejuvenated under Harry Redknapp, having kept a clean sheet at Sunderland. Although Villa really do need to string together consecutive victories to really lift themselves away from danger. With such a young, promising squad, the present may not be great but the future is relatively bright.