The Week In Villa (20)
Wednesday, 12th December
It's a day of reflection on the night before. Despite the best attempts of the media, the Norwich fans mostly gave polite applause to Lambert and he was humble in victory, so there was no real big talking points on that side of things. Unlucky, you stirrers of pots, you!
Thursday, 13th December
We're linked with players today. James Henry of Millwall (who I like the look of to be honest, although that's not based on enough viewing to be a complete declaration!), Heerenveen striker Alfred Finnbogason, Celta Vigo's Iago Aspas (also a front man) and Charlton's Dale Stephens, who we made a bid for on the last day of the transfer window, are all mentioned.
Well actually, on Stephens, he was mentioned by his own club saying we'll need to pay a lot of money if we want him. I suppose Chris Powell was asked the question and answered it, but whether there is anything in it remains to be seen. From what I hear, it was NOT a case of him or Westwood on deadline day so there may be, but then what I hear may be complete and utter nonsense!
Friday, 14th December
Darren Bent is injured for a while. Paul Lambert is heard muttering, 'Thank God for that' as he prepares for his press conference. (Disclaimer: That may not have happened)
Previews for tomorrow point to good form for Plop and good form for us. On paper I shouldn't be overly worried but I am a tad concerned, our record against them is nearly as bad as it is against Man U.
Saturday, 15th December
I needn't have worried! Don't get me wrong, that win highlighted problems with Liverpool and I am sure the media will point to that more than they will at us, but we increased those problems by defending well and being clinical up top.
As I stated previously, on paper I thought we had a good chance and a lot of that was down to Christian Benteke - who I am going to go on record already as saying he's going to turn out to be our best striker since Dwight Yorke, as long as we keep him long enough! - and he was awesome. Both of his goals were great in different ways and his back-heel for Weimann... I am drooling just thinking about it!
Weimann certainly looks better in a more central role and while Holman can be improved upon in his position in terms of creativity and quality, he definitely looks better there too and his work rate is just incredible. Plus his two goals have come playing this way, so overall I am certain he will also prefer this system.
In fact, with the exception of Marc Albrighton (who would really need to work on the defensive side of his game if he was to develop into a wing back) I think it benefits everyone. Weimann and Bent are absolutely better in a 'two up top' system and that also takes some of the pressure off Benteke. Gabby would also likely be happier in that system, and for me, his best form was alongside Carew; on his day Carew was unplayable, in the 'Drogba' league. Of course the difference between Carew and Drogba was while Drogba was awesome nine times out of ten, Carew would show it once or twice in ten. Given than Benteke has lots of similarities but so far seems a lot more consistent than Carew ever was, then whether it be Weimann, Gabby or Bent, he is probably a dream to play alongside.
We look more solid at the back and, when he returns from injury, Ron Vlaar may find it hard to get back in. Speaking of injury returns, Joe Bennett is likely to enjoy the added attacking side of things. Enda Stevens and Matt Lowton both seem like the kind of players that will be fine either in this system or a back four, and Bannan and Westwood are surely happier with the added defender immediately behind them while they concentrate on play-making.
Overall, it's hard not to think that Ron Vlaar's injury may be the best thing to happen to us this season, as it lead to this system. Sure, no-one has won the league in this country playing 3-5-2, but as we're not going to win the league any time soon anyway, then that's not a big concern! We look better with it and that is the most important thing.
Sunday, 16th December
As predicted the media are mostly looking at why Liverpool lost rather than why we won, but there are a few people out there giving us high plaudits.
The ladies finish the weekend off nicely by smashing Cov 5-0. Natalie Gibson and Livy 'Chick' Fergusson both scored twice while Maddie Cusack grabbed the other goal.
Monday, 17th December
The U-21's unfortunately lost 3-0 to Spurs (Scott Parker scored one of their goals, he must be the oldest U-21 around!) so we miss out on the Elite Group Stage of the new style league.
I am going to be honest with you, I am not 100% sure what that means... Hang on. I am going to research it. I'll be back in a mo. Don't go anywhere.
Okay, I'm back. Right. Basically, should we win our Qualification League, we need to have a play-off with the winner of the other Qualification League before playing the winner of the Elite League in the semi-finals of the knockout stage. Simples!
The other semi-final is contested between the teams who finish 2nd and 3rd in the Elite League. While it is more difficult for us, I absolutely believe we are capable of winning our league.
It's all here anyway:
In other news, Harry Forrester is linked with a return. He looked a good player and I was surprised we let him go, but whether there is any truth in this remains to be seen.
Tuesday, 18th December
There is still all sorts of articles about Liverpool clogging up our news feed. Anyone would think they'd been beaten by Sutton Town, not Aston Viila. Jeez!
Benteke is named in both the Premier League team of the week and the European 'All-Star' team of the week. Excellent stuff!
More of the same against Chelsea would be beyond nice. A win at Anfield then Stamford Bridge is a massive ask, but we are halfway there and what is the point in turning up if we don't believe?