Is this Norwich playmaker the man Aston Villa really need?

Norwich City's Wes Hoolahan has been strongly linked with a move to the Villans and is rumoured to have handed in a transfer request.

Aston Villa have been heavily linked with a move for Wes Hoolahan of Norwich City, with suggestions late last night that the Irishman had submitted a formal transfer request to force through a move.

Paul Lambert is believed to have identified the 31-year-old as the man to add some much-needed creativity to a struggling Villa side, who have won just one of their last seven matches in all competitions.

Hoolahan is believed to have told Canaries manager Chris Hughton that he wishes to make a fresh start, but any deal will be shrouded in controversy after Lambert's acrimonious exit from Carrow Road.

Villa have struggled for goals all season. Indeed, only four clubs - including Norwich - have scored less so far this term and the midfield trio of Ashley Westwood, Fabian Delph and Karim El Ahmadi has proved combative at best.

Away from home, Lambert's tactics have worked for the most part. The impressive 3-2 victory at Southampton was a case in point that the team's counter attacking modus operandi can pay dividends, especially when the onus is on the home team to monopolise the ball and take the game to the visiting team.

At Villa Park, however, it has been a different tale for Lambert and his men. The Villans have won just twice at home this campaign and have failed to score in six of their nine outings in front of their own fans.

It has led to question marks about Lambert's future, which intensified after defeat at home to League One outfit Sheffield United in the FA Cup on Saturday, and turning to Hoolahan seems like the most convenient option on the market for the Scot to turn to, having worked with  the Republic of Ireland international previously.

But the stats hardly read favourably for Hoolahan, who has actually endured mixed fortunes with the Canaries since Lambert's exit. The gifted play-maker was the catalyst behind Norwich's surge to the Championship title in 2011, but he has hardly set the Premier League alight during his two seasons in the top flight.

This season, he has mustered just five appearances for his side, registering just the one assist and failing to score in an inconsistent Norwich team and with a first-team place hardly secure as things stand, it appears a remarkable and perhaps unjustified place of faith in his talents.

While it is difficult to fully analyse his performance given a lack of appearances, an average of one shot per game and a 77.9% passing success rate does not smack of the answer to Villa's prayers when you consider the defensive-minded Delph posts 0.9 shots per game and completes 81.8% of his passes. 

El Ahmadi fares even better, with 1.3 shots and a passing accuracy of 83%. With one of Villa's fundamental problems the lack of goals from midfield and through last season's top goalscorer Christian Benteke, Villa require the sort of midfielder who can score as well as assist.

January is a notoriously difficult transfer window in which to secure the finest talent but, ultimately, Hoolahan arguably represents a slight, if any, improvement on what Villa already possess.

All statistics from

Is Wes Hoolahan the solution to Aston Villa's creative problems?

image: © mollyig

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