With the halfway point in the season just passed, we have a look at Aston Villa's campaign so far.
Prediction at the start of the season
After a season when they struggled and managed to avoid the drop, we predicted that Villa would consolidate and progress this season in mid table, and perhaps push for a place in the top half.
How have they been so far?
Despite them having some highlights this season, notably beating Arsenal in their own backyard and beating Manchester City at home, it has been tinged with disappointment which has led to some pressure building on the side and their manager.
4/10. Paul Lambert must be given some credit for masterminding victories over sides that currently sit first and second in the table but there have been some disappointing displays, and they have recently been on a run of defeats.
Best game they’ve been involved in?
Aston Villa 3-2 Manchester City. Twice behind and they still find a way to win the game through a combination of quality, pace. City kept on coming and despite breaching their resolve twice
Their stand-out player?
Fabian Delph. Though he is a young man and still has much to learn, he has shown the signs of him become a very accomplished midfielder in the middle of the park for Villa. He can pass the ball well and dictate play, and has done pretty well for himself so far this season.
New signings – how are they getting on?
Libor Kozak has found the back of the net on a couple of occasions, notably when Christian Benteke has been absent. Leandro Bacuna has shown he is pretty handy when it comes to a dead ball situation, but given they tend to leak goals their defensive reinforcements they brought in during the summer probably haven’t had the desired effect.
Most significant win of the season?
Arsenal 1-3 Aston Villa. The opening day of the season brought arguably one of the biggest results of the season. It was a big win for Villa as they came from behind to beat Arsenal on their own patch and send a message to the rest of the league indicating they had improved vastly on their struggling season the campaign before.
Their low point so far?
Aston Villa 0-1 Crystal Palace. It felt a bit like groundhog day as they slipped to a last minute defeat against a side that is odds on to be relegated, meaning it was four league defeats on the bounce and the pressure was mounting on Paul Lambert.
Where do they need to strengthen in January?
With a side that has plenty of pace in it, they could probably do with a strong midfield enforcer to control games, and possibly a defender. Though Christian Benteke isn’t having his most fruitful time in front of goal – the attacking side of the team is probably the one they won’t address just yet.
What can we expect from them for the rest of the season?
They’re a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde side, so expect inconsistency, the odd shock result, a hint at them being involved in a relegation battle, but at the end of the day their Premier League status will be assured and people will wonder why they were worrying.
image: © Ben Sutherland