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Agbonlahor: Coming Of Age?


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I think Saturday was a very important day for Gabriel Agbonlahor.

MON has definitely seen something he likes about Gabi. Until recently, when his legs looked like they would fold underneath the tired weight of his body, Gabi had played every minute of every game this season. Initially deployed as a right sided attacker in a 3 pronged attack, and more recently as a right winger, Gabi has seen his ability to influence the game dwindle and almost disappear. Being played away from his favoured striking role was appearing to suck the enthusiasm from his play and many fans were questioning his inclusion in the side at all.

Injuries to Carew and Young before today's game forced a rethink from MON. Striking options were available in the form of Moore and Angel; players who could most likely fill the role of the injured newcomers with minimal tinkering required. However, Gabi was selected as the great goalscoring hope for Villa, unleashing his pace and enthusiasm on a tired and lumbering Blackburn defence.

One school of thought has been that by placing Gabi on the right of midfield for so long, it has allowed him to gain valuable Premiership experience without the pressure of needing to score regularly to justify his selection. Its an opinion that I subscribe to and I believe that strategy bore fruit today.

Gabi was excellent as Villa's sometimes lone striker. Pace, movement and aggression were to be seen in abundance. His heavy first touch was apparent at times, but his pace running at the heart of Rover's back line caused them panic. And, most tellingly, it appears that his time in midfield has allowed him to understand the importance of a well timed run. At Watford early in the season, Gabi was caught offside more than 10 times when he seemed to be the victim of his own pace, misjudging his own runs and squandering numerous good attacking opportunities.

When Patrick Berger picked up David Dunn's loose pass, it would have been easy for Agbonlahor to instantly fire up his fuel injection white boots and hope for Berger to play him in. But when Berger needed to see off some close attention from Tugay before being able to chip the ball through, Gabi had the presence of mind to delay his run and when the through-ball eventually arrived, the linesman's flag stayed rooted by his side.

At this stage, it appeared that Gabriel was the calmest person in Ewood Park. He rounded Friedel, a keeper of huge physical stature in great form, without breaking his stride and slotted a cool finish to put Villa ahead. And his celebration of the goal showed supreme confidence and awareness of his own abilities. He accepted the adulation of the excellent Villa support, emphasised his dedication to the club with a badge kissing gesture which was infinitely more genuine than those offered by numerous mercenaries in the game.

All this in a week where he has been rewarded with a new contract, I think this is a turning point for Gabriel Agbonlahor. A coming of age, you might say. And I think I've rambled enough for now...

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good post and good points

i really hope he builds on this now and doesn't turn in to another julian joachim which i predicted for him at the start of the season.

when you put it like you have, you can really see why MON has persisted with him at right wing, and if it pays off in the long run gabby owes a huge debt to martin

he seems a good kid lets hope he pushes on even further

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Gabby played really well today, and stepped up to take on the responsibility of 'leading the attack'. Not just with the goal which was a great finish, but in the way he put himself about, gave Samba a real physical battle even though he was half his size, and just seemed to push and be up for it.

TBF, I thought he did the same in the 2nd half against Everton as well. Hopefully he'll get a run playing up front now, even when Carew comes back

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I think the partnership of Petrov and Barry is looking promising. Both are good footballers and play the simple pass, but both can defend as well. Look far more of a footballing side when they are there. Give credit to Gardner today for his performance on the right as well, seemed to do really well. Cant wait to Monday now.

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I think the partnership of Petrov and Barry is looking promising. Both are good footballers and play the simple pass, but both can defend as well. Look far more of a footballing side when they are there. Give credit to Gardner today for his performance on the right as well, seemed to do really well. Cant wait to Monday now.

this is what has been frustrating me. Everyone was saying McCann is a must... you need a DM... you really dont need a specialist DM. As long as you have hard working midfielders.. they are not required.

Petrov seems more defensive to me than an attacking midfielder.. he cant influence a game with his attacking skills..however with him in the side.. he goes back and helps out.. but he can play it out.. unlike McCann.

I hope MON has seen the light now.

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Maybe not, but you never know. Des Bremner was not the most skillful, but was a great team player. Dont know if you were old enough to remember him crossman, but it is a matter of balancing the team.

Met Dessie in Tescos on Tuesday, a top man and stopped and chatted to me for a couple of minutes before he went about his business on Broad Street. He thought we should be doing teams like Everton and he is looking forward to the celebrations for the 25th anniversary.

A real 100% player.

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excellent post, i agree with everything you have said but i also think Gabby played on the wing alot because of his hard work and 100% effort to support weakness's at the back. To many Villa fans have turned against MON for his selections but we have to give him time. Surely a man of his experience knows better than us and he will prove what a good manager he is next season.

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I agree his finishing has been brilliant this season to be honest and i'm not surprised one bit, he was our leading scorer in pre-season with 5 goals in 4 games and even though he's been playing on the wing a lot his finishing hasn't left him, that finish yesterday was of a man completely confident in front of goal, he made it look so easy it would have been funny if it wasn't so important, and as many know Friedel is no fool, but he isn't the only one he's made it look easy against, when he was one on one with Reina he made it look simple, against Foster he gave him no chance too, and it's crazy to think how many Vassell used to miss and Gabby at such a young age can do it with his eye's closed, i really think he can hit 15 goals or more for us if he plays up front with big John and has a little more quality around him i really do.

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One other thing, he's not scared of anyone. He went toe to toe with Blackburns big centre half yesterday and looked more than up fora ruck despite giving away about 5 inches and about 2 stone !

In fact, come to think of it Gabby has more than his fair share of fearless aggression. His celebration at Stamford Bridge comes to mind. He seems to be able to channel it well though, and like others have said he was calmness personified when he slotted past Friedel yesterday.

Add mental strength to blistering pace.

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I think Gabby and Big John upfront could be a devistating combination of pace, power and finishing. Power and pace blended into one goalscoring machine. On top of this Maloney showed yesterday some flashes of what he can do Attacking Midfieilder confident and comfortable Left, Right and Centre!

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Top post Gazton.

He is a striker for me, and I too find myself subscribing to the theory you put forward with regards to his involvement on the right.

He has found himself in 1 on 1 positions a few times this season, and to my memory, has scored every time - thats very impressive.

His finish yesterday was class, especially when you consider the pressure he must have felt when squaring up to Friedel - he was coolnes personified

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