What did you get right and wrong in your August-September progress report?
In my last progress report I gave the defense massive praise and they’ve let me down in every game since. It’s been painful to watch at times, due to injuries and loss of form the back four is a shadow of the one we saw in the opening weeks. I correctly predicted that Brad Guzan would be vital to Villa’s hopes of a successful 2014/15. Add to this the fact I said that goals would be a problem and it has proven to be a huge one, they haven’t scored more than two goals in any game so far this term.
Best Starting XI
Best Performer: Brad Guzan. The American has been the only thing keeping Villa from hitting rock bottom recently. Despite shipping 12 goals in his last six games, the USA shot-stopper was crucial in his side’s clean sheet against West Ham United, one of the leagues in form sides.
Most Improved Player: Tom Cleverley. Finally this gifted English player is staying true to his word that he would prove people wrong on his loan move. He has made himself one of the first names on the team sheet, albeit for a team on a very poor run. The 25-year-old had a very disappointing season last year but has vowed to get his career back on that “upward curve” and he’s heading in the right direction.
Injury News: Philippe Senderos has returned from injury which should help Paul Lambert’s defensive woes. Alan Hutton on the other hand is still not fully fit and Christian Benteke is currently serving a three match-ban, having already served one match last weekend.
Positions that need to be filled in transfer window: Although they’re on a horrific run of form, Villa don’t need to strengthen too much in January. The reliance on Benteke has been a weakness in the squad and another striker capable of 10 goals a term should be top of Lambert’s shopping list. One player should fulfil their needs for the remainder of the season
Managerial grade: E. It hasn’t been the same since Roy Keane lost the beard. But in all seriousness after Villa’s flying start it’s been a demoralising run that Lambert has experienced. The Villa board has plenty of patience and one would expect them to stand by the man at the helm for now. Tactically though Lambert has been outwitted and convincingly beaten by his more fancied counterparts. Due to manager’s lack of creative nous and unsettled defense it’s going to be a tall order to improve the confidence of the squad moving forward.
Weaknesses: Too many, last time round it was just goalscoring where the Villains fell short, but they’ve added a venerable defense since September. They conceded 12 goals in just five games, following my previous progress report.
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars. Villa have been very disappointing recently after an outstanding start to the season when they picked up 10 points from their opening four matches.
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