Any Premier League fans will have noticed that Aston Villa have been declining in recent times and after another depressing defeat against stumbling Chelsea at the weekend, I ask the question, is their anyone who can save the Villains?
Back to back campaigns have seen Villa fighting for survival and over the last five seasons the club have gone from plan A to plan B, manager X to manager Y, and disappointments to just disappointing. Aston Villa are nine games into the latest season and are without a victory since the opening day when they beat Bournemouth 1-0.
Manager Tim Sherwood is reportedly under pressure to save his job just six months after keeping the Birmingham club up in the previous year, and he’ll be hoping that his players can up their performances to get himself and the club out of trouble.
So let’s look at some of the current crop of players which includes some old faces as well as the new ones who could play a pivotal role in keeping a team who has never been relegated in the top flight.
This has been marked as a big season for attacking midfielder Grealish, who is looking to make his name in the top tier and become a consistent performer at the Midlands club. With the public tug of war between England and the Republic of Ireland now over, and Grealish committing his future to England, the youngster will surely be aiming to make the The Three Lions squad before Euro 2016 next summer. However, despite his clear potential, relegation with Villa would not do him any favours and he’ll know that if he can build on his first league goal for Villa, and contribute to keeping them in the Premier League, then he’ll stand a very real chance of catching England manager Roy Hodgson’s eye.
Although out of the team at the moment due to the signing of Joleon Lescott, and a recent thigh injury, Clark has a big part to play in Villa’s season. The Ireland international was arguably his club’s best defender last season despite starting out as the last choice centre back and few would be surprised if he managed to do it again. With Lescott’s recent performances and Villa leaking goals, you’d expect Clark to be given a chance as soon as he’s fit, with Sherwood still trying to establish his best starting eleven.
It says a lot about Villa’s current position that a striker who hasn’t scored double figures since the 2008/09 season is still at the club, let alone being touted as the man to keep them away from danger. However Gabby is still Aston Villa’s all time leading Premier League goalscorer with 73 goals, and there is always the sense that if he can stay fit and find some form then he can fulfil the potential he showed at a young age. Things don’t look great for Villa when their two main centre forwards, Agbonlahor and Rudy Gestede, are the players with the worst first touch at the club, but Agbonlahor is always a threat with his pace, and a return to form could see him fire those all important goals.
Idrissa Gana Gueye
While the three previously mentioned players were all graduates from the academy, Idrissa Gana Gueye is a summer signing from LOSC Lille that Aston Villa fans will be hoping can make a big impact this season. Brought in to compensate for the loss of Fabian Delph and Tom Cleverley, he is hard working, a strong tackler and looks to be taking to English football without too much trouble. However, without a single goal or assist so far this season, Sherwood and Villa fans alike will be looking for Gueye to make a more positive attacking contribution as the team look for their first Premier League win since his debut away at Bournemouth in August.
Finally, another summer signing and Villa’s new captain Micah Richards. He arrived back in his hometown, Birmingham, on a free transfer from Manchester City aiming to prove that he can still be a top Premier League defender. Although Villa sit in 19th place, Richards has been a bright spark and looks a good addition, but with captaincy comes responsibility and he must get his defense working as a unit. He, like Jack Grealish has spoken of his desire to get back into the England fold, but would struggle to justify his place should the Claret and blue club be relegated. If Richards can inspire his team to safety, he may get the plaudits he desires, and silence the critics.
Of course it will take much more than the contribution of just five players to keep Aston Villa in the Premier League, and Tim Sherwood will have to play his part if he wants to keep his job. But between them these five players have the ability and the experience to make a huge impact. What do you think? Is there anyone missing from this list, or anyone on here who shouldn’t be?