Saturday Football Spotlight: Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan

After an impressive display last weekend, Vincent Ralph asks if Brad Guzan can replicate it this afternoon against Manchester City.

Never has a player been the subject of two Spotlights, until now. The last time I wrote about Brad Guzan was six months ago, as Aston Villa prepared to face Liverpool whilst embroiled in a relegation battle.

That was a Sunday Spotlight, and at the time I said Paul Lambert’s side were at the stage of the season where every single point was crucial, and it was in players like Guzan that their destiny laid.

As it was, Villa lost 2-1 that day, goals from Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard wiping out a first-half effort from Christian Benteke.

The result left Villa in the bottom three on goal-difference, with the team directly above them – Wigan Athletic – having a game-in-hand.

We all know what happened next, and Guzan played as important a role as anyone; which brings us to this season, as the Villans prepare to face a Manchester City side fresh from two impressive and emphatic victories – most notably last Sunday’s 4-1 hammering of Manchester United.

See also: The Manchester City pass-master who could unlock Aston Villa's defence

A fine performance from Guzan in last weekend’s 1-0 victory at Carrow Road gave Lambert’s side their first clean-sheet in 27 games. It also showcased the American’s outstanding ability between the sticks, his late save from Norwich City’s Gary Hooper preventing both two dropped points and the extension of an unwelcome record.

This afternoon he will have to be at his very best, with City in possession of arguably the best strike-force in the Premier League.

Luckily for Lambert, Sergio Aguero is unlikely to be risked following a knock sustained last Sunday. But that still leaves Guzan and his defence with the prospect of facing Stevan Jovetic, Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo.

Another fine display this afternoon and Villa could not only put a substantial dent in City’s title aspirations and recent surge, but they could also finish the day as high as sixth.

Such a climb may be an aspiration for another day. For now Villa will hope they can keep another clean-sheet and take three more points.

If that happens, Guzan has every chance of being crowned man-of-the-match for the second successive week.

Do you think the 'keeper can prove to be the difference again today?

image: © apasciuto

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