Writer: Dan Jones
Date:Thursday April 22 2010
Gabriel Agbonlahor netted his 16th goal of the season (including all competitions), moving closer to becoming the first man to score 20 goals in a season since Juan Pablo Angel managed it back in the 2003/04 season.
Although Gabby, who has scored 13 in the league (one in the FA Cup and two in the League Cup) is unlikely to become the first player since Peter Withe to score 20 goals in the league but matching the achievement of Angel could be just what he needs to ensure a place in Fabio Capello's World Cup squad.
Villa fans have been screaming out for a 20 goal a season man since, well pretty much since Dwight Yorke avoided being shot at by John Gregory and signed for Manchester United. Angel managed it only once in his six years at Villa, and Agbonlahor who has undoubtedly improved year on year could well be that man.
So with three games remaining can Agbonlahor get four more goals and become the 20 goal a season man, the fans crave? First up we have Birmingham City at home, you know them as they play at the shed down the road. A couple of goals against the Blues would take him a step closer to the 20 mark. Last season he managed a hat-trick against Manchester City on the opening day, and although that is unlikely against the Man City of this season, he may well fancy his chances of scoring a goal at the very least. Blackburn at home to finish the season would provide another opportunity for him to net a goal, which might well be his 20th of the season.
Although some fans might not agree with it, Martin O'Neill has shown a lot of faith in the Erdington born Agbonlahor, despite links to Michael Owen and Darren Bent (among others) in the summer, O'Neill felt Gabby as well as John Carew and Emile Heskey could get enough goals and decided to concentrate on other areas of the team improving the defence and midfield.
So, how have his strikers done this season? Well Heskey has managed only five goals but Carew has scored 16 in 37 games (many of which have been substitute appearances), yet despite that Carew somewhat bizarrely receives a huge amount of stick from some supporters of the club. Gabby on the other hand remains a firm favourite and has once again improved his goals to games ratio to perhaps justify O'Neill's decision to stick with the three senior strikers, as well as allowing the odd cameo appearance from up and coming Nathan Delfouneso.
With Carew and Heskey both in their early 30's however it seems pretty clear that O'Neill will need to bring in a new forward during the summer, Bent would be many people's first choice but Sunderland would expect a huge fee considering the season he has enjoyed. A move for Owen seems unlikely and Spurs would probably not want to sell Robbie Keane to a close rival, unless they secured a Champions League spot. So who would be available is unclear at the current time.
But whatever happens this summer, you can expect Gabriel Agbonlahor to continue to improve next season.
Date:Thursday April 22 2010
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