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Squad Review


jimcohen
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So with the season quickly coming to an end, and us staying in the Premier League (!!!) I thought I would take some time to assess our current squad and see how many we would want to stay, how many we would like to see go, and then of course, see who we would need to bring in! I have based this on our current 4-3-3 formation that I quite like.

 

Goal keepers.

 

Brad Guzan. Wow. What a season, and what a piece of business from Lambert to bring him back. I think we all thought he was ok, quite good at saving penalties in the cup but his improvement had not been what we all hoped. How wrong we were. Top keeper, great presence and I think he will continue to improve. Remember he still hasn’t had a full season in the top league as starting number 1 yet!

 

Given, Marshall and Seigrest. We have good back up here and will be fine if they all stay. But will Given be happy seeing out his career on the bench for Villa and does Marshall have one more season in him. I would expect one will go and as such a back up keeper will need to come in.

 

Full backs

 

Matthew Lowton. Quality signing, solid season and a great prospect. He is probably the best full back we have had going forward for a long time and defensively I think he is going to come good. A potential England squad member of the future and a real star of the team this season. Things will only get better as he plays more in an established back 4 with better experienced players around him.

 

Joe Bennett. An interesting one here. When he is full of confidence he can be good. Very good. His crossing is excellent, and on occasions when you see him go for it, he can beat a man and really contribute going forward. Defensively though he has been found out a few times. He needs to bulk up, get better positionally and work with the rest of the back 4 a lot better. I think he could come good, remember he is brand new to the league, has played in a changing side, with many different formations in a side that has struggled. Not the best environment for a young lad trying to make a name for himself. I feel confident keeping him as first choice left back next season, but it will be make or break for him I feel. I don’t he should move to left wing as song have suggested, his defensive game will improve.

 

Stevens and Lichaj. Good solid if unspectacular back up squad members with time on their side. Both will e happy to stay as back, both can cover when needed.

 

Centre Backs

 

Ron Vlaar. Love this guy. Great attitude, commitment and leadership and the experience to make everyone else in the back 4 look a lot better. We are considerably better with him in and I think he could be a real Villa legend if he stays fit. Strong in the air, good positionally and a great passer of the ball. He is everything Dunne and Collins were not. Needs a better partner though!

 

Ciaran Clark. Potential. Real potential. He has had some pretty strong games for us and I still like the idea of him as a holding CM. He is a good passer of the ball, looks comfortable having it too, and his distribution can be good. Tackling can be rash and his positional sense and decision making has come into question, but I do feel his worse games were without Vlaar when he had to lead the back 4 in a struggling side so maybe we have been harsh on him. Not sure I would like him as first choice next season, but I defiantly want him to stay and feel he could fight his way into the team in 6-12 months time and maybe then stay there for a very long time. Like a lot of the other squad, he would have learnt a lot from this season and will come back a better player for it.

 

Nathan Baker. I like Baker. I think he is an old fashioned hard working centre back who delivers consistently and honestly for a team he clearly wants to prove himself in. Great potential and solid back up like Clark, but again I would not want to rely on him as a starter just yet. He needs to get better at his distribution but with Clark and Vlaar so good at this maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. He certainly could make it as a premiership defender so let’s hope we don’t miss out on his career in the way we did with Cahill.

 

Richard Dunne. Soon to be gone and the money from his wages will go a long way! USA maybe?

 

Central Midfielders.

 

Barry Bannan. A lot of potential, but still not delivering consistently enough. He does suit a 3 man midfield a lot more so happy to keep him as back up, but he won’t start as many games as he would like so will he start to grumble. Can pick a pass, but sometimes tries to do a killer ball a little too much, and with Westwood developing so much this season, we have someone who does his job a lot better now.

 

Fabian Delph. A lot of injuries have frustrated him and the fans, and I know a lot of people still remain unconvinced but I like him. He adds bite and tenacity into a smallish midfield, and his passing is better than most give him credit for. He is often in the mid 80’s for his completion ratio and his tackling is getting better, as in he gets carded a little less than he used too! A solid if unspectacular player who I think does more for the team than most give him credit for.

 

Yacouba Sylla. Good signing. Good player. Great prospect. After a handful of games, a lot of fans are very excited about what this lad could achieve. It shows how good our scouting network has becoming, picking this guy  up so quickly after missing out on our number 1 target from the lower leagues of French football. He has adapted quickly, shown great heart and spirit, and with more games under his belt I think could become a first fan favourite.

 

Ashley Westwood. Top player and great attitude. Some great passes this season, the through ball for Gabby against Norwich comes to mind most recently, but he has does this all season. Great positionally and so calm on the ball. His confidence has grown immensely over the season and I think he will come back a lot stronger next time around. A future captain and potential International, this guy has everything if he can continue to develop his game.

 

Karim El Ahamadi. Always seems to deliver for me but for whatever reason doesn’t get the game time to deserve it. He is probably our most attacking central midfield player and the only one for me who could get the 5-10 goals we need from midfield. His shooting from range is decent, and the rest of his game is good enough to start for me. Maybe at the expense of Delph, but with lots of games to play, rotation will be key and I hope he stays and gets a good 30 odd games again.

 

Gary Gardner. Back from injury and performing for the reserves again. I like what he brings to the side and could be a great future start for the side. Still too early to tell but hopefully he will get 20 odd games next season and show his potential.

 

Steven Ireland. Cheerio Mr. Ireland seems on the cards. Like Bent and Dunne, his wages will be huge and with all 3 going we could make some serious moves in the market for players who will actually play. Shame as he has it all, but so rarely shows it. My patience has run out and I assume so has Mr Lambert’s. Stoke I predict.

 

Chris Herd. Worth keeping for his versatility and attitude. Can play pretty much anywhere and will always deliver consistently for us. My second choice right back at the club and a decent back up in midfield. Should get a few games if he stays fit and offers good flexibility instead of Lichaj off the bench.

 

Daniel Johnson. I have only seen him play a handful of games but I am impressed by this lad. Has it all and offers the goal threat the rest of our midfield lacks. Send him out to a championship side on loan next season to warm him up for our European nights the season after!

 

Wingers.

 

Marc Albrighton. The forgotten man. Will he fit into our new system? Yes in short! Offers good back up to Weimann and an explosive impact from the bench when defenders are getting tired. Gets his crosses in a lot and lets think, have we seen him play much with Benteke? No. His crosses plus Beneteke’s aerial threat equals goals for me.

 

Charles N’Zogbia. Bit like Ireland, real class when he is on form, but from what I have heard, his discipline, although better, is what keeps him out the side more than anything else. Sort that out, get his head down and working hard and we have a real talent on our hands. I hope he stays, sorts himself out and delivers what we all know he can. He should be aiming for 30 starts, 10 goals and 10 assists next season.

 

Gabby Agbonlahor. Star of the year so far and great to have him back to his best. Much better in this formation than 4-4-2 and offers so much more than goals. His pace, ability to beat a man and crossing has improved immensely as has his left foot and finishing. Should be aiming for 15 goals a season now and thinking of himself as a left winger, not forward. His worst games for us have been when we rely too much on him, play him up top on his own and his confidence goes and he feels the pressure too much. Alongside Wiemann and Beneteke he has proved what he can do when played in the right way. Well done Lambert for finally finding the best from Gabby.

 

Andreas Wiemann. Great attitude and work rate with a calm composed finish to boot. Probably would suit 4-4-2 more than the rest of our side, but has adapted to left wing well and it will serve his career well to develop his game in this role. On the counter attack, he is one of our best players, he doesn’t have the pace of Gabby, but the runs he makes are very clever and he is always so hungry to break and turn a defensive situation into a goal threat. Probably the player most at risk from an inform and disciplined N’Zogbia, but offers a lot coming from the bench and will get his game time I am sure. Let’s just hope we sign him up soon. Be a real shame to lose him after outing all this work into his career. I hope he recognises that and shows some loyalty to the club.

 

Brett Holman. Holman offers a lot, hard work, a good shot from distance, strong and physical and up to the demands of the game, but he seems to tire after an hour and his passing can be erratic at times. A great squad player, but he needs to focus and push himself on a lot more in his short passes to get into the side regularly for me. However, I do like the idea of him coming on with 30 minutes to go in a tough battling game and really making a difference.

 

Samir Carruthers. Showed great signs at the end of last season, that drop of the shoulder and skinning Gerrard at Anfield! But he has barely featured this term, playing different positions for the reserves but showing good promise. Get him out of loan to a championship club and see how he develops.

 

Forwards.

 

Christian Benteke.  Re-sign him on a larger contract as soon as humanly possible, probably the best striker we have had at the club in my life time. If we can keep him at the club for a long time and build a team around him we could do what we so nearly did those 3 season under MON. Still only 22 without a full season or pre season at the club what potential this guy has. He has it all.

 

Darren Bent. I presume he will go, which is a shame, as he is a great goal poacher, but he just doesn’t fit our system anymore and clearly Lambert doesn’t like him for the way he wants to play. Get him off the pay roll with a decent selling on fee and we can use the case in other areas. A shame.

 

Jorden Bowrey. Good prospect, but lets be honest, none of us have seen him play enough, and certainly not in his favoured position. Time will tell.

 

Nathan Delfouneso. Cheerio. That simple. Not good enough.

 

Graham Burke. I like to look of Burke, and clearly Lambert does too. Get him out of loan and see how he develops.

 

So if we sell Dunne, Bent, Ireland and Delfouneso, this leaves the following, with cash and salary I would imagine for 2 solid new signings.

 

First 11.

 

GK – Guzan

RB – Lowton

CB – Vlaar

CB – Clark

LB – Bennett

CM – Sylla

CM – Delph

CM – Westwood

RW – Weimann

CF – Benteke

LW – Agbonlahor

 

Second 11

 

GK – Given

RB – Herd

CB – Baker

CB –

LB – Lichaj

CM – Bannan

CM – El Ahamadi

CM – Gardner

RW – N’Zogbia

CF – Bowrey

LW – Albrighton

 

Not bad but clearly lacking in the CB and CF areas.

 

Still leaves: Marshall, Seigrest Stevens, Johnson, Carruthers, Holman and Burke.

 

So for me, we clearly need one more CB. Ideally one to play alongside Vlaar, offer some experience and solidarity to the back 4. A left footer as well. Lescott fits the bill perfectly for me. We can’t have all kids!

 

Another forward if Bent and Delfouneso do go would be handy too, although if Benteke is injured or suspended or we want to rest him, we can always move Gabby or Weimann to the middle and bring in any one of our other wingers.

 

All about getting Weimann and Benteke to commit long term and a new CB for me this summer. Not a massive ask and who knows, next season could be a new dawn for the Villa.

 

 

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Great post. Agree with a lot of your opinions.

 

RE: Bannan, I'd like him to stay but the strong rumour is we will have sold him by next season, so presumably we need a replacement there?

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Neither Baker nor Clark are good enough at present. We need a better CB to play with Vlaar.

 

All I ever hear about Bennett is how he *may* come good and deserves a "chance". Really, he's had his chance all season and isn't up to playing left back. New and better LB pl.

 

We need a midfield "general" - this is possibly our biggest need.

 

Don't expect Given or Zoggy to be here next season.

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Neither Baker nor Clark are good enough at present. We need a better CB to play with Vlaar.

 

All I ever hear about Bennett is how he *may* come good and deserves a "chance". Really, he's had his chance all season and isn't up to playing left back. New and better LB pl.

 

We need a midfield "general" - this is possibly our biggest need.

 

Don't expect Given or Zoggy to be here next season.

I think that Bakers progression this season means it would be foolish to drop him from the first team. He needs to play more not less.

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Clark will not be good enough, nor will Bannan, Holman, Abrighton or lichaj. Vlaar will stay but i don't think he's quite been as good as we had hoped if we are all being honest. Hopefully he will be better next season!

 

Absolute waste of time waiting around to see if players like Albrighton, Bannan or Clark will be good enough to be long term premier league players, because they will 100% not be. 

 

Baker deserves a chance because of the heart he has shown these last few months, although i doubt his ability is premier league standard either! Everybody else, except the obvious ones that are leaving (Dunne, Given, Bent and HOPEFULLY Ireland) should stay in my opinion. Hope someone comes in for Holman though.

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I agree with most of your post but I'd be more confident in the following teams:

 

First 11.

 

GK – Guzan

RB – Lowton

CB – Vlaar

CB – NEW PLAYER

LB – NEW PLAYER

CM – NEW PLAYER

CM – Delph

CM – Westwood

RW – Weimann

CF – Benteke

LW – Agbonlahor

 

Second 11

 

GK – Given or Siegrist

RB – Lichaj

CB – Baker

CB – Clark

LB – Bennett

CM – Sylla

CM – El Ahmadi

CM – Gardner

RW – NEW PLAYER

CF – NEW PLAYER

LW – N'Zogbia

 

I don't think either Baker or Clark are good enough to be 1st team regulars yet (more so Clark who is a liability, less so Baker who has developed well but we need the finished article) so I'd bring in an experienced, strong and commanding central defender to partner Vlaar. Although Sylla seems to work well with Delph and Westwood, I'd rather have a more commanding defensive midfielder in there to protect the back four from the masses of space we seem to always leave for opposition players to waltz into. Bennett has shown he's not ready yet to make that left back position his own so I'd bring in someone a bit more experienced and better at getting back. We could do with a couple of new attacking players to add cover for one of the front free, and to add some options, but this isnt the priority. I don't think Given will stay either so it would be nice to give Siegrist a chance to see what he can do.

Edited by R.I.C.O.
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I think people are being quite unfair about Vlaar although i do agree he's not been quite the player i hoped. I feel there are mitigating circumstances though, he's suffered a fairly lengthy injury during his first season in the Premier League which is bound to have affected his settling in/getting used to the pace of the PL.

 

I'm more than willing to give him another season as a starting CB.

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I think we need two really top options in there in the back four with Lowton and Vlaar.

I think Westwood should be a starter in August with TWO other quality players in the centre for a mixture of power, ball winning and goals, added to what Westwood gives the team. Delph, Sylla, Bannan and Gardner if I had my way would form a strong looking midfield squad outside of the first 11.

I'm happy with the front 3 of Benteke, Gabby and Weimann. If Bent leaves though we could do with another big target man of a striker who has the goals in him to compete with Christian. Bowery I'm not sure, I like the kid but I'm not sure he has the quality to consistently score at this level.

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Damson, why would you not want to play delph and sylla? I've had a season ticket for 11 seasons and Delph has put in some of the best CM performances i've ever seen over the last few months! including Milner and Barry, i think if he continues to progress he will actually fulfil his potential, which i never thought was going to happen!

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I think people are being quite unfair about Vlaar although i do agree he's not been quite the player i hoped. I feel there are mitigating circumstances though, he's suffered a fairly lengthy injury during his first season in the Premier League which is bound to have affected his settling in/getting used to the pace of the PL.

 

I'm more than willing to give him another season as a starting CB.

 

Vlaar was instrumental in getting our back 4 to become more solid when he returned from his calf injury. Yes, we still continue to ship goals, but that's was mainly down to individual errors & not organisation. However, nobody was thrashing us anymore ( although Man U obviously eased up).

 

We do need at least 2 new Centre Backs in my opinion. One permanently to go in alongside Vlaar & another one to provide cover for when Vlaars inevitable calf injury reoccurs & also to provide further squad competition to Baker, Clarke

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Players to keep who have done well: Guzan, Benteke, Gabby, Weimann, Westwood, Vlaar, Lowton, Sylla, Delph

Players to keep who either have potential or showed glimpses of what they can do but can't necessarily be relied on to come good: KEA, Baker, Bennett, Zog.

 

To early to really tell: Dawkins, Bowery.

 

Players I just don't know if they can genuinely cut it but unlikely to be sold: Clark, Bannan, Lichaj.

 

Players to get rid of for one reason or another: Bent, Ireland, Delf, Holman, Dunne, Hutton, Warnock, Herd, Given.

 

Players we need more than anything, 2 defenders one CM.

I think we will lose at least one striker we don't want to and someone else will get picked off that we don't expect, so a lot of work has to be done to make us into a mid table side that competes well in cups again.

Edited by VillanousOne
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I really think we should aim for players to be making an impact at first team level - then those who fall short become fringe players. 

Basically - When you're saying 'he can be backup' or 'he can be a squad player' - its a polite way of saying 'I don't want him in the first team'.

 

Of course its no just as simple as showing them the door - there has to be a buyer. Personally I would listen to offers for Albrighton, Bannan, Delfonso, Herd, Clark , Bennett  - That isn't to say sell them all at the same time - But IMO none of those players are good enough to make a favorable impact at first team level.

 

I did wonder if Bennett would scuttle back up north - but it seems he has been told he is expected to be first choice FB next season - which kinda surprised me.

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Need to see how Bennett does in his second season, to be fair. He has had some abysmal performances, one or two ok games, but towards the end of the season I think he has shown a few touches that tells me he is learning. OK, he's not brilliant by a wide margin, but occasionally the lad does something that gets your attention. I can't justify rubbishing one player off because of a few errors, when the same could apply to a few more.

There is definitely room for improvement.

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Great post. Agree with a lot of your opinions.

 

RE: Bannan, I'd like him to stay but the strong rumour is we will have sold him by next season, so presumably we need a replacement there?

yeah maybe, but with the starting 3 and then Gardner, Herd, Johnson, KEH and even Clark all able to play there, I think its a strong position for us. Losing banna is essrntial losing a guy who played 30 games, I think between the previously mentioned players we can cover him if we go. Woudl love to see someone else come in dont get me wrong, I just think we have other areas of priority. This would be my third or forth signing if I was Lambert though. Centre back, striker, left back, then CM.

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Players to keep who have done well: Guzan, Benteke, Gabby, Weimann, Westwood, Vlaar, Lowton, Sylla, Delph

Players to keep who either have potential or showed glimpses of what they can do but can't necessarily be relied on to come good: KEA, Baker, Bennett, Zog.

 

To early to really tell: Dawkins, Bowery.

 

Players I just don't know if they can genuinely cut it but unlikely to be sold: Clark, Bannan, Lichaj.

 

Players to get rid of for one reason or another: Bent, Ireland, Delf, Holman, Dunne, Hutton, Warnock, Herd, Given.

 

Players we need more than anything, 2 defenders one CM.

I think we will lose at least one striker we don't want to and someone else will get picked off that we don't expect, so a lot of work has to be done to make us into a mid table side that competes well in cups again.

A bit of good news for you. Warnock signed for Leeds in January and has played 17 games for them.

Edited by briny_ear
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did he actually sign permanent. I thought was a loan deal granted hsi contract was up next month anyway  but great that he is gone

Edited by Zatman
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