Posts Tagged ‘Carew’

Season Previews 2010/11 – Aston Villa


Aston Villa

Last Season: 6th

New Signings: Hmm, none to report as yet.

Key Player: Ashley Young

One To Watch: Marc Albrighton

Needs  A Big Year: The new manager

Would Quite Like: Continued dominance over Birmingham whilst pushing onto the Champions League places.

Prediction: 9th

Thoughts: This was all written up and then Martin O’Neill resigned which changed things somewhat. Much of it still applies though. Aston Villa appear to have reached a bit of a glass ceiling at the moment. Sixth place for three seasons running but unable to make to the breakthrough whilst other teams such as Spurs and Man City overtake them.

Despite them fading every spring I think Villa’s problem is not so much one of squad depth but more of quality. Martin O’Neill tended to play the same starting XI for 95% of the season so to push on they need one or two top quality players who will cost £10m+ and replace someone currently in the side.

It appears that at the moment the money doesn’t exist to do that which would reflect in the attempts to get rid of the likes of Luke Young, Steve Sidwell and Habib Beye. Also, in losing arguably their best players two summers in a row (Barry and now probably Milner) it means they’re always trying to catch up to where they were rather then move forward.

Laters, I'm off.

Assuming Milner does leave I would suggest buying a replacement in midfield (though if they get Ireland in part exchange then it’s a great deal) as well as a striker and left-back. For all of Carew and Agbonlahor’s qualities, neither can be relied on to score 20 goals. With Milner gone, the onus falls on Ashley Young to live up to his undoubted potential.

O’Neill had been experimenting with him in a floating central role in pre-season and perhaps this change in tactic is needed to offer some variety in Villa’s play. I think as usual they’ll be tough to beat and will gain a victory or three over the sides above them but the reality is that they’ll find it difficult to maintain their current level and may find they drop a place or two this season. O’Neill’s motivational skills will be greatly missed.

Villa’s prospects really depend on who comes in to replace O’Neill. Some of the names mentioned so far aren’t very inspiring but I think they’ll go for someone up and coming rather than a big name. I don’t see a new manager getting any greater sum to spend, but I suppose there will be some Milner money to make a few improvements. Either way it’ll now be mid-table.


Live Report – Arsenal vs Aston Villa 27/12/09


I was personally quite apprehensive going into the Christmas fixture against Aston Villa. They were unbeaten at the Emirates and possessed qualities which would no doubt cause Arsenal problems such as good crossing, organisation and pace on the break. With Fabregas doubtful I thought we would struggle a little. In the event my fears proved unfounded.

arsenal aston villa

Nervous excitement and a nice view from the upper tier.

Arsenal lined up in the now usual 4-3-3/4-5-1 with Eduardo Nasri and Arshavin as the front three and Diaby and Denilson in midfield with Song. In defence Armand Traore returned to offer some pace down the left flank. A bright opening saw Eduardo hit a tame shot (a passback really) straight at Brad Friedel when essentially one on one.

Vermaelen and Song were putting in some strong tackles that gained crowd approval while a few set pieces caused danger in the Aston Villa box (though none of the chances were clear-cut). Villa meanwhile looked to Agbonlahor to stretch the Arsenal defence through his pace and Heskey to challenge it with his strength. Almunia looked indecisive, and was constantly lumping it long to Arshavin which was pointless as Richard Dunne would win the header everytime.

Arsenal Aston Villa Fabregas

Two free kicks in two weeks? Not this time, but later.

Half-time saw the teams level at 0-0. An intriguing contest and an entertaining one, but one you felt had only a goal in it which was worrying given Villa’s result against Man Utd a few weeks back. The crowd was fairly subdued I thought and inklings of frustration were beginning to creep in as the misplaced pass count began to increase.

Denilson, though not playing badly, had once or twice failed to find the final pass and it was no surprise to see him come off for Fabregas on the hour. The impact was immediate. The pace of Arsenal’s play increased and balls began to find their way to Arshavin more often (he was often in space yet no one was giving him the ball).

Not long after Fabregas won himself a free kick, dusted himself down and curled a beauty into the top corner with Friedel flailing. The American’s positioning didn’t look set but I don’t think he would have saved it even if it was. With a 1-0 lead, the game opened up and was brought on to expose Villa on the break.

15 minutes later exactly that happened. Traore found Walcott on the right who went surging towards goal. Following him was Fabregas who was busting a gut (and a hamstring) to meet a through ball. Walcott’s pass was perfectly weighted and Cesc simply slotted past Friedel into the back of the net. His celebrations consisted of some stretching which was somewhat worrying, but this was tempered by the fact the game was won.

fabregas denilson arsenal aston villa

Denilson hadn't played badly but Fabregas offered much more attacking threat.

A huge cheer greeted his replacement by Ramsey. Fabregas had been the difference and this was our hardest game for a while so was perhaps worth the risk of his injury. A few minutes later, Diaby capped off a fine performance with a nice solo goal, as he just ran past the dejected Aston Villa midfield and curled it round Friedel from about 20 yards. He has been very good the past few games and you just wonder whether he can finally make his undoubted talent stick.

So a fantastic win coupled with probably our best half of the season. Aston Villa can count themselves slightly unlucky to come away with a 3-0 defeat but ultimately they didn’t have someone who could make the difference like Fabregas. Ashley Young was very quiet while Agbonlahor was marshalled well by Gallas and Vermaelen. Cesc looks like he’ll be out for a couple of weeks but with the next games against Portsmouth and Bolton he should hopefully not be missed too much.


Season Previews 09/10 – Aston Villa



Last Season: 6th – A late season collapse after being five minutes from an eight point lead in 4th.

Say hello to your new teammates: Stewart Downing, Fabian Delph, Habib Beye.

Close the door on your way out: Gareth Barry, Zat Knight, Martin Laursen

Predicted star: Ashley Young, who else? With Barry gone and Delph & Downing signed, Young could end up with a more central role behind the strikers as the season goes on. Even if not, his crosses and creativity will be the key to Villa doing well. I have a reluctant hunch Milner will also have a good year.

Needs a big year: Agbonlahor needs to improve the consistency of his goalscoring. Whoever is signed to replace the retired Laursen will need to provide leadership, an aerial threat from set-pieces and general excellent defensive displays. No pressure then.

One to watch: We’ll get to see what the fuss about Delph is about. Barry Bannan has been tipped in a couple of places.

Hopefully worth the money they paid.

Hopefully worth the money they paid.

What they want to happen: A new Laursen and a larger squad oversees further improvement to 5th or even 4th. Birmingham to go straight back down.

Nightmare scenario: A stretched squad cannot repeat the achievements of last season and they slip towards mid-table. Defeat to Birmingham won’t go down too well. Someone buys Ashley Young.

Plan A: Pace and crossing from the flanks onto big John Carew and Agbonlahor.

Plan B, just in case: ‘Direct’ play towards the duo of Carew and Heskey.

Predicted finish: 8th

A lot rests on him.

A lot rests on him.

Why? The suspicion remains that last season was Villa’s best chance to break into the top four and that opportunity is now gone. Man City are stronger, Spurs are more solid (ish) and Everton are tough to beat as usual. Gareth Barry decided that Champions League football money was a factor after all and jumped ship to their rivals while Laursen had to unfortunately retire. Neither player has been replaced as yet, while main signing Downing won’t play until Christmas. Clubs are starting to sniff around Ashley Young too.

On the plus side, Villa have a young, fast hard working squad and if they can stay fit then they’ll compete as ever. A decent, albeit relegated, right back has been signed and Bouma is fit again (is this a good thing?). It’s still quite tight between the four clubs mentioned in this preview and with bit of luck Villa could get the Europa League spot. I feel however it might be a season of regression for Martin O’Neill’s side.



Fantasy Football – Gameweek 16


Another poor week saw me get below the average score. A lot of this had to with Ronaldo getting himself needlessly sent off and scoring a grand total of zero points.

No Rio, he got zero points not one.

No Rio, he got zero points not one.

It was good to see Fabregas finally do something (relatively speaking, it was only four points after all) while Fulham defenders have made themselves arguably the best value in the game. None of our captain choices really did anything and it was another week for unsung players getting big points.


Top 3 Alternatives to Ronaldo as Captain:

1. Adebayor or Fabregas/Arsenal – Ade’s fit again and is looking to help an Arsenal team prove they can beat the Wigans as well as the Man Utds and Chelseas of this world. Van Persie is an option given his form but I think this is the kind of game Ade can dominate in. His goalscoring hasn’t matched up to last season yet but he’s been getting more bonus points. I certainly think he’ll get more than the standard two points or playing this weekend. Fabregas is slowly but surely improving his form and be looking to provide the assists from midfield. As always, Wigan at home should be a win but you never know…

2. Rooney or Tevez or Berbatov/Man Utd – I thought Ronaldo may be suspended for this game after his sending off last week but apparently he had to miss the midweek Blackburn League Cup match. Handy as he was never going to play in it anyway. I normally wouldn’t included Tevez with the other two given his lack of playing time but seeing as he scored four goals midweek he may well get a start. Sunderland at home won’t provide too much of a test, especially now they no longer have Roy Keane as manager.

3. Lampard/Chelsea – He always seem to score away against Bolton. Big Phil won’t want a third game without a win.




Suggested Transfers In:

1. Pantsil or Hangeland/Fulham – Both well under 5 million, both part of a defence that has only conceded 11 goals all season. I’d put Schwarzer here too obviously ( 17 points in two weeks) but I assume most of you have him already as he’s so cheap. It may be time to start him though.

2. Anichebe or Cahill/Everton – Yakubu suffered an achilles injury last week and is out for the season. James Vaughan won’t be back till next year and Louis Saha is, well, Louis Saha. All this means Victor Anichebe is Everton’s only fit striker and is well worth a punt at £5.4 million. Tim Cahill will also be pushed up to support him so has the chance to score some good points (he’s a midfielder don’t forget).

3. Van Persie/Arsenal – The question with Robin Van Persie has never been whether he has the talent but whether he can stay fit for the course of the season. So far this year, so good and the two goals against Chelsea showed how important he is for Arsenal in terms of providing something direct and different to their style of play. With Wigan and Boro in the next two week he should add to his seven goals and three assists so far.



Players to avoid.

1. Carew/Aston Villa – Only ten minutes played in the last four games due to a niggly back injury. 

2. Any Sunderland players (apart from Cisse) – Managerless, in the bottom three, six defeats from seven and United away this week. Wait until a new manager comes and then bring them in as they’ll pick up form. Though if it’s Allardyce boycott them altogether.

3. Any West Brom player – Bottom of the Premier League for a reason.





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