Aston Villa fans everywhere will be somewhat surprised at the start they have been made to this new season, I should know, I am one. It is our best opening to a season for 16 years. Villa go into the game on Saturday against Arsenal five places above them in second. So is this the real deal or are Villa to fall slowly down the table?
Villa are currently missing two of their biggest players. Captain Ron Vlaar didn’t feature last week due to injury, and super striker Christian Benteke is expected to return at the end of the month. You would hope as a fan these two returns would bolster and boost the squad and only make us push on further, however I am feeling cautious. Frailties were exposed in the league cup at the hands of Leyton Orient who inflicted a 1.0 defeat on an inexperienced team. Saying that, Darren Bent was playing, but couldn’t find a decent finish on the night.
Paul Lambert has been rewarded for the good start to the season with a one year extension on his contract taking him to June 2018. I think having Roy Keane by his side has really helped. He may have instilled some more discipline in the younger players at Villa Park. The likes of Ashley Westwood and Fabian Delph need to push on, and the latter especially has earning himself an England call up. We have plenty of young talented players who have only slowly pushed on in the last couple of seasons, but hopefully with Keane on board they can kick on and establish themselves.
The squad isn’t the biggest in the Premier League, it is hard to compete with the likes of Chelsea who can start Didier Drogba and call upon Diego Costa and Loic Remy from the bench, so we have to make the most of what we’ve got. Gabriel Agbonlahor has made a good start to the season but he will want to score more than he has done in recent years. Benteke had a mediocore 2013/14 season compared to his previous, and all Villa fans will be wishing that he recaptures that form.
Personally I would be delighted with a top 8 finish, perhaps we could be the Southampton of this season, but keep some of our players! The signing of Tom Cleverly has potential to be a great one, Roy Keane knows him from his Manchester United days and this could be exactly the club he fits in at. Ashley Young flew at Villa, at Manchester United, not so much. This could be the same for Cleverly.
We will go into the weekend full of optimism, more confidence than we would have had 6 weeks ago, facing Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City in consecutive fixtures.