Writer: Mike Field
Date:Thursday October 17 2013
We host Spurs again this weekend, please don't let it be a repeat of the Cup. Who's more confident, us or them?
With thanks to OxfordSpur at Vital Spurs.
1) What are you now expecting from the season following your start?
Hoping, rather than expecting, but a top four place, has to be the main target, but also I see no reason why we shouldn't be looking at some silverware. We are still in the Capital One Cup, doing well in the Europa league and have a squad depth to be able to field strong teams in every game, injuries permitting.
Obviously we are in a race with at least six others for four Prem places, so we can't afford to drop three points too often, as we did against West Ham, but with others doing the same, we haven't suffered too much for that blip.
2) What are the highlights and lowlights from the pre season/season so far?
Despite winning nine out of our twelve games so far, it is hard to pick out one specific highlight. Over all, we have played pretty well.
You feel we have the beating of anyone, but as with our two games against the usual top four regulars in Arsenal and Chelsea, we had spells of dominating the game, but in both matches, allowed the opposition to get back in and get something.
One point from those two games, could turn out to be key to our season just as much as losing to the likes of West Ham.
As for lows, it has to be losing to Arsenal. On reflection, I feel a draw would have been a fair result, but it wasn't to be.
3) How do you feel your club did in the transfer window? Which new signings should we really look out for?
It is hard to be disappointed when your club spends over a hundred million, but of course losing a player of the quality of Gareth Bale is a massive loss. Question is, could any club turn down such a huge figure for one player and on balance, I feel that the vast majority of fans believe we have bought very well and are actually a better team and squad without really spending a penny when sales and purchases are put together.
4) Has anybody left who you think has seriously weakened the team? Kind of obvious that one, so maybe it should be, with Bale leaving, have you benefited overall, or would you rather he had stayed?
I suppose the idea of having Bale now, with the other new signings is the perfect scenario, but even with one or two new players yet to establish themselves, others, such as Paulinho and Cristian Eriksen have been instant and massive hits, whilst in the likes of Soldado, we have seen obvious quality, but perhaps he and the team still need to understand each others games.
Of the others, Nacer Chadli, has been reasonable, but is probably not considered an automatic pick, Etienne Capoue, started brilliantly before injury halted his progress, whilst Erik Lamela and Vlad Chiriches still need games and time to settle.
We also have to consider the additions of Danny Rose, who has been excellent at left back and was badly missed when recently injured and Andros Townsend, who is now the media flavour of the month, following his England heroics. Two players who have been with the club for a long time, but how when finally given a chance, have been two of our better performers.
5) Who is going to be your main dangerman when we play?
In recent seasons, we would talk about us being dangerous in many areas, but all too often relied on one man to get us out of jail and were in the main quite predictable.
This season, we look better balanced, but are still perhaps not quite capitalising on our possessional domination of games, but in the likes of Eriksen, Townsend, Sigurdsson and Soldado, we have real attacking purpose, but have probably yet to really click.
Add Holtby, Lamela, Chadli and Defoe, and we could effectively play another four that would be equally devastating. Oh and Paulinho has been a real threat coming from deeper positions.
6) What are your weaknesses, any clues for the game will be appreciated :-)
Particularly with the absence of Danny Rose at left back, we have tended to play a little narrow. Our wide men tend to like to cut inside as opposed to hitting the corners. As a result, we have usually been defensively solid, but haven't yet managed to score too many at the other end.
I'm sure this is something that AVB is working on and getting that balance between attacking and defending is hugely difficult, but I do feel that as the players get to know each others games and the system better, we will start to be more fluent and will give someone a real beating. I expect Rose to be back this weekend and that will add genuine pace and width and with him and Kyle Walker, we have two outstanding attacking full backs.
7) Will you have anyone out who would otherwise play?
Our recently injured players, Rose, Capoue, Kaboul and the almost forgotten Aaron Lennon, should all be fit for the weekend, but I'm guessing only Rose is a likely starter, though much will depend on how fresh the international travellers are and whether there are any knocks.
Mousa Dembele limped out of Belgium's training this week, but played 90 minutes against Wales, So I would imagine it was nothing to worry about.
Now with a slightly more Claret and Blue angle...
8) Are you surprised to see how Villa have struggled for the last few seasons and do you think we will again this time round or do you believe we`ll remain roughly midtable this time out?
Not really, as I believe it was down to poor management at board level over a few years. Under O'Neil, you allowed him to spend money you couldn't really afford, and in then having to drastically cut costs, you are suffering as a result.
Appointing someone like Houllier, was madness and a recipe for disaster in my opinion. I could have understood it if he was appointed as a DoF, with perhaps Kevin MacDonald as first team coach, especially if the thinking was to go with youth, but clearly it has all gone terribly wrong and the costly purchases have in the main failed and you are left with little more than a weak and inexperienced squad that has potential, but little else.
9) Do you have any thoughts on Paul Lambert and do you think fans will be as forgiving this season as they were last??
I quite like Lambert and have felt he has done great work wherever he has been, but managing Villa is a totally different level than anything else he has done and as a result, it needs a different approach, but so far, I'm not sure he has done that.
Is that due to the financial constraints or his own way of building teams, time will tell, though I think it is probably a bit of both.
Having to lose the big earners might actually work in your favour in the medium term, but until either the youngsters come of age, or you can unearth a few more Benteke's all over the pitch, you will be nothing more than a mid-table team.
What might well happen is that Lambert is sacked and the new guy reaps the benefit of Lambert's toils, if the fans get impatient. But I feel the fans need to understand that the is working with one hand behind his back and is actually doing a decent if not outstanding job.
10) Villa are again looking at youth, have you any thoughts or heard much about our prospective first teamers from our European Champion Academy, or those we really promoted last season?
If I'm honest, I haven't really looked at how you are doing in the academy and U-21 leagues, though of course I know you have great faith in that area.
One of the problems I believe you are currently facing is that you are having to play too many kids and would have benefitted from being able to retain or bring in a few older heads to help develop the youngsters.
I can see a time when you are 80% homegrown, but when it looks like you are bringing in very average imports to play alongside them, I have to question whether it will work. I know he wasn't always a popular choice amongst your fans, but having a fit Richard Dunne last season would have been beneficial for your young players, as would have having Vlaar fit.
11) Who has stood out most from our summer signings for you?
Getting Christian Benteke to sign a new contract!
Of the rest, I really don't see too much to get me excited. I have to confess to only really watching Villa on Match of the Day, so can't fairly judge all of the new faces, though they look more journeymen than superstars, but please tell me differently.
I have been impressed with Fabian Delph in he brief bits I have seen and perhaps he is at last achieving his potential. Also Weimann, Westwood and the revitalised (under Lambert) Agbonlahor have impressed me.
12) If you could take one of our players, who would it be and why?
Benteke aside, I honestly don't see another player that would get into the Spurs XI. Even then we have Soldado, who will hopefully prove a great signing.
In Benteke, you have a player that can genuinely become a world-class player if he continues to apply himself. I was surprised that he remained with you this summer, but for his development another year with you, is probably a sensible decision and then consider his next move, if you haven't matched his ambitions.
I would take him to Spurs and see him offering a totally different option to Soldado or Defoe and a hungrier alternative to the apathetic Adebayor.
13) Who do you see as our main threat in the game?
Once again, Benteke if he is fit, but if you have the three of Weimann and Agbonlahor either side of him, that is a threat for anyone.
If fit, I would consider Spurs starting Younes Kaboul over the slower paced Michael Dawson to counter your attacking pace, but if I'm honest, I don't expect that to happen.
14) Where would you say our current weaknesses are in terms of how you will approach the match?
Experience and perhaps creativity. Also aside from your attacking three, I think you have a very average squad.
If we play at a tempo we can, I believe we have the quality to roll you over. Problem is so often that after international or Europa weeks, there is a worry that tired legs and lack of preparation counts against teams, which I hope doesn't happen on Sunday.
15) Finally, a prediction please kind person…
2-0 to Spurs!
With thanks again, and also interesting to see an opposition fan share the same views on some aspects of the team and plan as some fans do, with respect to experience and bringing on our potentialled lads in a bit of an easier manner.
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Date:Thursday October 17 2013
U18s Through To The Fourth Round (Tuesday December 10 2013)
Four Games Until The Halfway Point For Villa... (Tuesday December 10 2013)
The Villa Times - 10/12/2013 (Tuesday December 10 2013)
VMF Newsletter For December (Tuesday December 10 2013)
Villa Away To Newcastle United Time Change For Sky (Tuesday December 10 2013)
Aston Villa Linked To Two In Jan Transfer Gossip (Tuesday December 10 2013)
FA Youth Cup To Be Screened (Monday December 9 2013)
Lambert Philosophical Following Defeat (Monday December 9 2013)
Grizzly Report - Fulham v Villa (Monday December 9 2013)
Stats: Fulham v Aston Villa (Sunday December 8 2013)
|4.||Pride of Lions||168|
|West Ham||0||-||0||Aston Villa|
|9. Man Utd||15||6||4||5||3||22|
|11. Aston Villa||15||5||4||6||-2||19|
|12. Hull City||15||5||3||7||-6||18|
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