The first game of the season is drawing ever closer and I have taken this opportunity to present 3 Villa players who could make or break the Claret & Blue season.
Shay Given – £3.5m arrival from Manchester City
During Brad Friedel’s tenure between the sticks, Aston Villa fans have been treated to some wonderful top class goalkeeping. Even at 39, his reflexes were incredible and his shot stopping was amongst the best in the league. When he took the opportunity to leave for free and join Tottenham this summer, the news was greeted with a resounding groan from all Villa fans.
There were really only 2 possible targets Villa fans would be uniformly satisfied with to replace him – Ben Foster or Shay Given. The latter arrived for a bargain deal of £3.5m from Manchester City and has looked sharp in pre-season. He impressed against Blackburn and produced an incredible double save against Chelsea in the opening minute of the Barclay’s Asia Tour Final.
In addition to this, Alex McLeish has made a clever move in uniting Given with Dunne and Clark – a combination well settled into the Republic of Ireland’s defensive line. Every manager knows how important a quality keeper is – someone who can gain you 5-10 points on their own. Villa lost one at the start of the summer but have found an ample replacement.
Marc Albrighton – Youth product, Tamworth born Villa fan
The inclusion of Marc Albrighton has several prongs to it. Right now, Villa fans are not feeling too optimistic.
A finishing position of around 8th would probably suit most, representing a steady and unspectacular season. For this reason, it is essential to find other aspects of Villa to get excited about – and one of those is academy product Marc Albrighton.
He hasn’t looked back since Kevin MacDonald started him against West Ham just shy of 12 months ago. He has stated that the departures of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing will only help him cement a regular place in the team and continue his growth.
Marc Albrighton performing well could give Charles N’Zogbia some much needed breathing space as he is sure to be under immense pressure to deliver this season. Villa fans are praying that he can continue to shine and consistently cause defenders nightmares in striving to produce service for…
Darren Bent – Club transfer record, prolific striker
Without goals you get nowhere in football. This was proven to Villa fans during the first few months of Gerard Houllier’s reign when we seriously struggled using Emile Heskey up front.
In fact it had been proven to Villa fans over the past several years since Juan Pablo Angel left the club as the likes of Agbonlahor and John Carew consistently failed to find that next gear. It is no coincidence that when Bent arrived we started moving up the table.
His 9 goals for us in half a season propelled us up to a (potentially undeserved) 9th place finish. There is no doubt that Darren Bent can finally be Aston Villa’s coveted 20 goal a season striker. He was born to finish and he’s been an absolute joy to watch so far. He is my #1 key man in the Villa side this season as without him, I would doubt we could find the back of the net. If his prowess in front of goal rubs off on Nathan Delfouneso too, then all the better!
Do you agree with my thoughts? Charles N’Zogbia was unlucky to miss out, but that’s not to say he is not an essential player for Villa this season. It is also time for Fabian Delph to show his true colours and justify his fee. Jean Makoun could do with a commanding performance or two as well.
Follow me on twitter! @stighefootball