Writer: Mike Field
Date:Friday March 15 2013
Another of many six pointers for us in our final games this season, so we speak to our friends on the network.
With QPR even more in the thick of it than we are, are they more or less confident than Villans when it comes to avoiding the drop.
Well read on and find out then!
With thanks to Boxer from Vital QPR.
1) What are you now expecting from the season following your start - do you think you'll survive given the recent upturn in form?
The start was disappointing to say the very least, and in honesty it's not just the start that's been the problem for us. Harry Redknapp has come in and somehow got a desperate side destined for the drop into a side more than capable of beating the drop. It's just a question of whether Rangers have left it too late to make an impact this season.
Whether we will survive is open to much debate, it's a question of whether or not the current side can couple consistency with their recent improved displays. If they can continue in much the same way as in recent weeks, then I don't see why we can't compete effectively considering what is a very forgiving run-in.
2) What are the highlights and lowlights from the season so far?
Low lights are Jose Bosingwa refusing to sit on the bench, quite why a footballer thinks he has a god-given right to play when his performances have been sub-par is beyond me, losing the opening game of the season in dramatic fashion against Swansea City after a summer of great excitement and the FA Cup demolition at the hands of Milton Keynes Dons.
Highlights have been few and far between - but defeating Chelsea on their own patch, keeping a clean sheet and Shaun Wright-Phillips scoring the winner? - More of a dream than a highlight! The performance against Southampton rather game me renewed hope that the impossible could happen, and it could turn out to be the defining point of our season if we're to stay up.
3) How do you feel your club did in the transfer window?
In January I felt we went about things a lot better than in the summer. We selected the right players in the right positions and managed to acquire some excellent talent in the guise of Christopher Samba and Loic Remy. The perhaps less hailed additions of Jermaine Jenas and Andros Townsend could also prove very influential - particularly with regards to the performances of the latter.
4) Who has turned out to be your signing of the summer?
I would suggest that Ryan Nelsen was an central defender with excellent experience and had he of seen the job out, I'd have suggested he'd be our player of the season, let alone signing of the summer. Unfortuantely he elected to explore opportunities elsewhere, so that particular title must now go to Julio Cesar.
I still do not know how me managed to acquire such a fine goalkeeper, and such a reputable player on the world stage, considering at his current age he would be considered around the peak of his powers. It was a proud moment when I saw Cesar take the armband for Brazil against England and I don't think that is a feat that will be repeated by a QPR player again.
5) Who is going to be your main dangerman when we play?
Loic Remy and Bobby Zamora I feel will be our key players against what is a young defence, who while energetic and enthusiastic, may not have the experience to deal with the likes of our strike duo. Bobby has been around the block and knows a few tricks, so Ron Vlaar will have to be at his best to snuff out his aerial threat.
Remy meanwhile is direct, pacy, purposeful and has a great eye for goal. Once again he is a player that I have to rub my eyes and look again in disbelief that we have managed to capture a player of such calibre. I hope he does justice to my words this weekend.
6) What are your weaknesses, any clues for the game will be appreciated :-)
On occasions our defence can be a tad ponderous and on occasions pace can undo us over the top. Chris Samba is getting fitter and improving week on week, but there is a tendancy for the back four to be stretched wide and gaps to appear in behind Clint Hill. I think Luis Suarez rather highlighted Clint's diminishing mobility, but overall he does a good job for us.
7) Will you have anyone out who would otherwise play?
I think we're looking ok in the build up to this weekend, probably as good as we have been in recent times. Bobby is managing a long-term hip injury that will see him probably start but not last the 90 minutes. Andrew Johnson is a long-term absentee and I think we've lacked that bite up front at times this season.
Now with a slightly more Claret and Blue angle...
8) Have Villa performed how you expected this season, and do you see us improving or suffering relegation?
I get the impression that if these players were playing for Wigan Athletic, the media et al would have given up on them months ago and written them off. I think the run-in has a lot more twists and turns on the way and Villa - much like QPR - will be right on the cusp of those relegation places. I must admit I think despite having an admirable policy on young footballers, it may be to your detriment.
9) Do you have any thoughts on Paul Lambert?
He is trying to approach the club the right way, bringing in young, hungry players from the reserves and under 18s and further afield and trying to assemble a team capable of staying in the Premier League. It is morally an excellent thing to be doing particularly in the modern climate, but as mentioned I believe it to be detrimenal in the short-term.
There is little wrong with bringing through youth and purchasing these players, but as a gradual process and not necessarily kicking out everyone over 30 and starting again. I think it's naivety of the highest order to play without any genuine experience, yes - there will be no fear, but I think Villa have lacked that commanding guidance on the field that would turn them from relegation candidates to mid-table hopefuls.
10) What have you made of our youth promotions last/this season, anybody caught the eye for you?
As mentioned above, I think it's admirable but with its evident pitfalls. Bringing through the youth team players gradually alongside some experience is something that could have transformed Villa's fortunes. That is not to say that Brad Guzan isn't a good goalkeeper, but as a defender you're surely going to want Shay Given commanding his area and guiding you accordingly.
I wish every club in the league could do it Villa's way, we'd have a far better national team going forward certainly. While others bolstered their squad with experience, Villa are going to have to rely on some younger heads to steer them away from trouble. A bold strategy that if succesful might spur some clubs on to do the same.
In terms of talent, evidently Benteke has caught the eye, but the performances of Westwood in the middle have been accomplished at times, but the consistency of the duo is something that will need to improve.
11) Who has stood out most from our summer signings for you?
Benteke most certainly. He has scored wonder goals, bullied defenders and been a genuinely welcome addition to the Premier League. If he can draw on this experience and continue to improve and gain consistency in his displays then he could be a forced to be reckoned with in the coming years.
12) If you could take one of our players, who would it be and why?
The younger players have performed well, and some have a very bright future ahead. Bennett, Baker, Weimann et al have proven that they can do it on this stage. Perhaps being gradually weened into the division rather than thrown in at the deep end might improve them as players, but you can only speculate.
Benteke is a forward that I'd like to have at my disposal, while the more experienced players such as Agbonlahor, N'Zogbia and Bent all have their own abilities to bring to the table - albeit they need to be more consistent.
13) Who do you see as our main threat in the game?
Beginning to sound like a broken record when I say Benteke is the main threat to our defence. I would hope that Chris Samba would be able to deal with the majority of efforts he has to offer and certainly won't be as weak as an Anton Ferdinand. If Benteke can get in behind or work a gap in the defence, then he may have some joy - here's hoping that we're stout in that respect!
14) Where would you say our current weaknesses are in terms of how you will approach the match?
We will be attacking and direct this weekend. Wingers cutting inside and looking for gaps to exploit. Zamora and Remy as the out-balls up front and looking to drag the defenders out of position. This is the hope, but as we know things don't always go to plan and I've certainly little reason to be brash or overly-confident at this stage!
If Zamora can get into good positions, I feel he can draw out Vlaar et al and create space for Remy to exploit, and it is at the centre of defence that Rangers can hope to get some joy out of Aston Villa.
15) Finally, a prediction please kind person...
I think QPR can win, and I don't think either side would be happy with a point - making for an entertaining spectacle. I think 2-1 QPR with Remy and Samba to score a goal a piece, and hopefully spur QPR on to the next stage in their revival.
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Date:Friday March 15 2013
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