In a pretty good initiative on Villa’s part, fans are now given the chance to vote on the man of the match after every game, with the overall winner (highest point accumulator) being named player of the month. Anything that get’s the fans involved is a good thing and this has resulted in Mr Gabriel Agbonlahor being named our player of the month for August.
After each match, the player with the most votes is awarded three points, with two for second and one for third. Our top five is as follows this month, with Agbonlahor taking the crown after receiving more individual votes than Fabian Delph in second.
1st: Gabriel Agbonlahor (4 pts)
2nd: Fabian Delph (4 pts)
3rd: Shay Given (3 pts)
4th: Chris Herd (3 pts)
5th: Barry Bannan (3 pts)
Agbonlahor earned four points from finishing second against Blackburn and Wolves while Delph finished third against Fulham and first against Blackburn.
It seems that our fans can read a game pretty well as Given won the Fulham vote, Herd won it for Wolves while Bannan was first against Hereford. All correct decisions in my opinion.
For me personally the player of the month would have been between Agbonlahor or Given, with Given just about pinching it if I was pushed. They’ve both started the season in fine form though, and that’s all that really matters.
Agbonlahor seems to have recaptured the form which makes him so dangerous, and even though I still would ultimately like to see him as a striker, he’s looked very impressive playing on the left hand side. He’s already popped up with two important goals, and his celebration against Everton tells you everything you need to know about how much the Villa and it’s fans means to the player, great to see.
Fabian Delph has the makings of a top player, and it’s great to see him getting more game time as he looks to develop into the player we all hope he can be. After a hugely impressive start to the season, his performances have slightly tailed off in the last couple of games. Still, the potential is there for all to see, and at 21 he has plenty of time to develop into a top top player. At times he seems to be trying too hard, and this does on occasion cost us, as shown when conceding a needless penalty against Everton. There is plenty more to come though from this exciting young talent.
Given has been somewhat of a revelation, and already a candidate for ‘signing of the season’. He clearly needed to be playing, and it’s great that he is for our football club. He was sensational against Fulham, and has performed well in just about every game to date. We’ve always been aware of his goalkeeping qualities but what I love seeing is how he seems to be inspiring the rest of the defence to up their games. Collins and Dunne look like the players of a couple of seasons ago, with Dunne in particular excelling with his International team-mate behind him. A brilliant bit of business on our part.
Chris Herd has only played the one premiership game this season, but what a performance it was. He was sensational against Wolves, and kept an England winger (Matt Jarvis) extremely quiet, eventually resulting in his substitution. Phenomenal in the air, strong in the tackle and has a terrific attitude to the game. He almost knocked himself out in the aforementioned game, after colliding with a post yet stayed on the pitch and was correctly awarded Man of the Match. Like many of the youngsters, he has a genuine affinity with our club and plays like a fan, always giving 110%. Expect more from this versatile young star.
And finally we finish with Barry Bannan, who you get the feeling is on the brink of something very special. Us fans have been aware of his talents for a while, and on the occasions he has played this season, he has looked a star in waiting. Blessed with an otherworldly left foot, he also has a football brain that belies his young age. He was awarded man of the match for the Carling Cup game against Hereford, and you feel this may be the first of many. He has shone for Scotland this season, has impressed when coming off the bench for us and you feel a starting role is just around the corner, perhaps this weekend against Newcastle. Like Herd he has a genuine connection for the club, and I’m incredibly excited to see what he can achieve this upcoming season.
So how about you? Let us know who your player of the month is for August by getting in touch either here in the comments section, or on our Facebook and Twitter pages (links above).
Let’s face it, after the first 45 minutes yesterday we all would have taken a point, and over 24 hours after the final whistle blew, I’m still delighted with the spirit and character shown by our Villans to come back not once, but twice. This was NEVER going to be the easy game that a lot of people seemed to think it would be. Regardless of the problems Everton are going through they are still a more than decent side, with Internationals throughout the starting eleven. I would have been happy before the match with a point, and after the way we fought for a hard earned draw, I was delighted after.
While the first half was disappointing, I was amazed to see the reaction of some Villa ‘fans’ when we went one nil down. I always try to be positive with regards to the Villa, but when we do play badly (like the first 45 mins yesterday) I’d rather discuss it sensibly than begin criticising everything to do with our great club. Comments like ‘McLeish and Lerner out’ after 45 minutes of mediocrity do no-one any favours, and I’m genuinely worried how some will react when we do lose our first game this season. It seems some people can’t wait to get the knives out, but I’m sure the majority won’t overreact, and won’t think the world is ending. It’s all about the bigger picture and for me at least, McLeish has had a very promising start to the season.
Anyway enough of that! On to the players ratings after a battling point yesterday. As always feel free to get involved, and share your views (Twitter and Facebook links are at the top of the page).
Shay Given: 7 – I love seeing him in nets for us, and as mentioned a number of times this season his communication is a joy to watch. Made a couple of vital stops, and although he almost got caught out towards the end of the match, he made a great save in the last minute from an Everton corner. Could do nothing with either of the goals.
Alan Hutton: 5 – Not the best debut for the former Tottenham man, who looked off the pace throughout. Poor in possession, and Everton were successful with far too many attacks on the left side. He needs games and to build his match fitness but this wasn’t the best start for the Scottish international.
James Collins: 6.5 – The whole defence were found watching for Everton’s opener, but he grew into the match as the game went on. As always a beast in the air, and put his body on the line on more than one occasion.
Richard Dunne: 7 – After one of the best defensive performances in recent memory for his country in the week, Dunne continued his good form with an impressive performance. Looks more calmer with Given behind him, and is continuing to read the game extremely well.
Stephen Warnock: 5 – He’s started the season extremely well considering his issues last campaign. Poor game yesterday though, and he was beaten far too many times by Seamus Coleman. Poor in distribution, hoping for an improved performance next time out against Newcastle.
Fabian Delph: 5 – I’m a big fan of the player, but he needs to learn to tone it down at times, as he’s almost trying too hard. Neat and tidy at times, though our midfield was often dominated throughout the game. Gave away a needless penalty just as we were getting back into the match.
Stiliyan Petrov: 7 – As mentioned our midfield were overrun at times, though he tried his best to keep us possession and to allow us to get a foothold in the match. Stepped up when he had to with an absolute peach of a goal. The reaction of his fellow players tells you everything you need to know about the how much they respect him.
Charles N’Zogbia: 5 – Just waiting for him to really announce his arrival at the Villa, as he put in another poor performance yesterday. Showed some nice touches, but just not clicking for him yet. Was once again taken off in the second half.
Emile Heskey: 5 – No time for him to make an impact as he was withdrawn after 15 or so minutes with a hamstring strain. Disappointing after a promising start to the season.
Gabriel Agbonlahor: 7 – Quiet for the first half (along with the rest of the team) but looked much more threatening in the second half. A cracking run deserved more before he popped up towards the end of the match to rescue a point for us with a well taken header. His celebration showed just how much he loves the Villa and the fans.
Darren Bent: 5 – A poor display from our main man up front, who didn’t look quite right after his recent injury problems. Missed a good chance at the start of the second half, and while yet again the lack of service to him is a worry, he needs to make more of an impact. Saved us early on with a header off the line.
Barry Bannan: 7 – Replaced Heskey early on, and his enthusiasm for the game is great to see from a Villa viewpoint. Always wants the ball and tested Howard with a few efforts from distance. Needs to work on the defensive side of his game, and was extremely fortunate to not give away a penalty as he appeared to catch Baines in the second half.
Marc Albrighton: 7 – Came on when we were chasing the game, and did what he had to do, putting in a peach of a cross that Gabby couldn’t miss. Very encouraging cameo after a pretty disappointing start to the season.
Stephen Ireland: 6.5 – I was impressed with Ireland when he came on, and I’m hoping he uses this appearance to push on for the rest of the season. He wanted the ball, and made a number of cracking runs. Positive signs.
Man of the Match: It’s tough this week as there was no real stand-out performance. For stepping up yet again though, I’m going to award it to Agbonlahor, who has started this season in very good form.
Summary: After a first 45 minutes that were pretty diabolical, a draw at Everton is not to be sniffed at. We came back not one, but twice, and it’s great to see our Villans display such character. A cracking goal from our captain and Gabby once again stepped up when we needed him. We’re still unbeaten, and hopefully we’ll get the three points next week and that will represent a very promising start to the season.
So far today we’ve seen the usual amount of Villa transfer madness.
Here is an update:
It looks like young Irish left-back Enda Stevens has all but confirmed his proposed move to Villa, and will be joining in January after Shamrock’s Europa League campaign.
We were apparently in talks with Joe Cole, but he has completed his year long loan move to Lille.
Still looking likely that the Hutton move will be completed at some point today.
The latest link is with Jermaine Jenas, with Sky Sports News (SSN) reporting that we’ve made enquiries for the England midfielder.
Latest update is that Villa and Tottenham are discussing a loan move for Jenas.
Despite reports linking Fulham with a move for Hutton, the Birmingham’s Mail Mat Kendrick understands that the player is en route to Bodymoor Heath for a medical. Talk emerging of Jenas to Stoke.
It has been confirmed that Villa have completed the signing of the aforementioned Edna Stevens and he will join the club in January.
Hutton fee has reportedly been agreed and a medical is close. Jenas deal edging towards being completed as well.
Still waiting for an update on Hutton and Jenas. It is understood we have a 6% sell on fee for Gary Cahill should he move to Tottenham or another club.
After a quick break from reading football to play it, come back to read official Villa announcement that Jenas and Hutton are undergoing medicals. It seems that these two will be the end of our transfer dealings and the latest news that Hutton has turned down Fulham surely means an announcement is inevitable.
And we’re done! Villa have completed the signing of Alan Hutton on a deal until 2015 and Jermaine Jenas has signed on a year long loan. Good deals in my opinion and we have a very promising young left back to come in in January.
It was a struggle, but we got there in the end and the most important thing is that we find ourselves in the draw for the next round. We’ve all seen Villa fall victim to upsets previously, and there’s no denying it sucks. I was therefore pleased to see McLeish take the cup seriously and despite making eight changes, we put out a strong side. It appears that we’re placing more emphasis on the cups this season and that’s the way it should be. Only a few seasons ago we reached the final of this very competition and despite the tournament having plenty of detractors, there’s no doubt that winning it would be a huge boost to the fans and the club itself.
Focusing on the match and ultimately we did enough to see off the challenge of a spirited Hereford team. There were plenty of positives we can take from the match and the most important thing in my eyes, is that we kept the momentum rolling to continue our very encouraging start to the season. Habib Beye also earned his wages for once, and we kept another clean sheet. Eric Lichaj also grabbed his first goal for the Villa, and boy did he celebrate in style! It’s also refreshing to see how much it meant to him, and soon after the match he ‘tweeted’ the following:
‘Think I’m deaf now… Never heard my mom scream so loud and for so long after her son scored. Happy man ’
Now that’s what it’s all about and I love knowing that Lichaj, and the rest of the youngsters seem to have a genuine affinity for our football club. This is the best group we’ve had coming up in a long long time, and I’m so excited to see how they progress. Barry Bannan again ran the show yesterday (sorry Blackpool he’s not going anywhere) and looks like he’s going to play a big part this season, and Weimann and the Fonz also impressed when coming on. I would much rather give these players a go, than spend money on a player who may not necessarily be needed. Which brings me nicely on to my next point!
A number of sources have linked us with a move for Manchester United midfielder Darron Gibson with a fee of £3.5 million mentioned. Now he’s only 23, and anyone coming up through the Old Trafford ranks must have something about them. For me though, I wouldn’t be too keen on bringing him in. I don’t think we need him and while the squad could do with one or two new faces, surely other areas are more of a priority? I think we could do with a defensive midfielder, not someone like Gibson who is more of an attacking option. Yes he has a great shot, but that is not reason enough to bring him in. The fact a lot of Man Utd fans don’t rate him says it all, and I would much rather us use our existing players than waste unnecessary money and wages on a player we don’t really need. The aforementioned Bannan is a much better option, and we still have players like Ireland and Makoun sitting on the bench.
So to finish, well done Villa for negotiating your way to the third round. On a night where a number of other Premiership sides were ‘upset’, it was important for us to progress, and to keep the positivity around the club before the top of the table clash against Wolves this Saturday!
The start of the football season is always special with the first home game of the season usually an exciting occasion. In a pretty eventful summer, even by Villa standards, it will be nice to finally focus on what really matters….the football.
Blackburn are the visitors and while the fixture itself is pretty uninspiring (with us playing then 232 times in the last few seasons) it could have been a lot worse and does at least offer us a good chance of securing a victory. Indeed we last faced Blackburn only a few weeks ago and came out on top, a typical poachers effort from Darren Bent the catalyst for victory. Yes it was ‘only’ a preseason game but anyone who watched it would have seen it was far more similar to a premiership encounter, and this will hopefully be a good omen for us. In other recent matches against Rovers, we’ve also fared well and I sincerely hope that this good record continues tomorrow. Blackburn didn’t have the best of starts with losing to Wolves so will certainly be keen (pardon the pun) to secure a much needed positive result.
How we line up will be interesting. After securing a valuable point in our opening game at Fulham, I’m hoping Mr Shay Given (who has been passed fit) has a far more quiet afternoon tomorrow. Despite starting the match with three strikers, we didn’t really create much and we will need to provide our main man Darren Bent with a lot better service. I don’t expect too many changes with regards to personnel but I do expect us to be a lot more attacking. Charles N’Zogbia will have had another week of much needed physical training, and I expect us to offer much more of a threat. Alex McLeish is not stupid, and after his controversial appointment, he won’t play negative tactics at home. I think we may surprise a few people this season and if we can continue the attacking football that Gerard Houllier was beginning to implement with some much needed defensive stability, then the majority of fans will be happy with that.
Sticking with McLeish, and after a good reception last week at Fulham, I hope that this continues tomorrow and the fans get firmly behind the manager and the team. Booing, banners and the like don’t help anyone and even if you’re still not convinced by our new man in charge then don’t let it effect your support of the team. There is nothing any of us can do about it now, Alex McLeish is our manager, so let’s get behind him. He’s made an extremely brave decision in replacing Houllier and is already saying the right things with regards to the supporters:
“I’m looking forward to walking along the track, taking my place in the dugout and seeing the team kick-off, hopefully to victory.
“Ever since I moved across the city, there’s obviously been a lot of controversy.
“The first event was away in Hong Kong, the next one was the away game at Fulham and now it’s the home game against Blackburn.
“But that’s what you have to do in life. When you get a challenge, you’ve got to confront it.
“Don’t shirk away from it. You’ve got to front every one of these challenges head on.
“It would be great to think that you just turn up on the pitch and the fans give you full backing from start to finish, but we know that we have to excite them.
“We have to get them up on their feet, getting right behind the players, intimidating the opposition, making them feel a little bit apprehensive about their task of coming to Villa Park.
“So these are all important ingredients so that the fans can do their bit.”
In the midst of these quotes is the following; ‘When you get a challenge, you’ve got to confront it’ and there can be no doubt he has. It seems almost surreal to think back a few months but the level of hostility towards McLeish was incredible. 20,000 or so people joined a ‘We don’t want McLeish’ page on Facebook, there were protests at Villa Park and I lost count of the supporters who said they wouldn’t have anything to do with the Villa when he was in charge. It will be interesting to see what these fans think now, as to date, McLeish has done a fine job in his tenure as Villa boss. We kept a clean sheet away from home in the Premiership, a feat not managed since April 2010 in his first game. We’ve also seen Villa make two purchases that could prove to be inspired. Given is already looking like a steal at £3.5 million, and when N’Zogbia is up to full speed, we’ll have one of the most exciting players in the league wearing a Villa top. What’s not to like?
Finishing off now and I’m hoping that we secure the three points tomorrow afternoon, to continue the positive start to the season. I won’t make a prediction (naturally due to not wanting to jinx the team) but I hope that come 5pm tomorrow, Blackburn have even more reason to hate playing us. The club needs the win, the fans need the win and so does Alex McLeish. Let’s get behind the team, the manager and make Villa Park the fortress it should be.
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We got there in the end. After yet another drawn out transfer Villa finally got their man as Charles N’Zogbia signed a five year deal at Villa park.
We all knew he was coming and I was still crazy excited when the move was confirmed. This has the potential to be a terrific signing for us and to be able to bring him in for less than half the amount we sold Downing for is terrific business by the Villa. He’s direct and his dribbling capabilities have been well documented after the guys at Opta revealed that only Lionel Messi had attempted more dribbles in the top five European leagues this past season. While he may lack the crossing nous of some of our previous wingers, he is better at beating his man, and offers more of a goal threat. We have more of a ‘classic’ winger in Marc Albrighton, and I think the two of them have the potential to cause havoc next season for opposition defenders.
N’Zogbia has a reputation for trouble and pouting, largely due to the infamous ‘insomnia’ incident at Newcastle but I don’t think that will be a problem at Villa. He’s already saying the right things, and has composed various ‘tweets’ expressing his delight at joining us.
‘I’m so delighted, a special day for me, looking forward to meet my team mate and play for Villa ☺’
The smiley face says it all! I’m sure we’ll write more on N’Zogbia as the season unfolds but for now let’s enjoy the moment and what has the potential to be a top class signing. There is talk he may make his debut against Derby in the week and I can’t wait to see him in action.
Welcome to a great club Charles.
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While the preseason has been under-way for a few weeks now, it has seemed that Villa are just a step behind the majority of other teams. We were one of the last to return from the summer hols and one of the last to play a preseason friendly. It all kicks off tonight though with the obligatory trip to Walsall and I can’t wait, it’s been a long two months.
A very young side made the short trip to play Boldmere yesterday and despite losing 3-2, games like this are always beneficial in terms of fitness and experience. A few of the more familiar reserve stars were in action including Burke, Siegrist and Gardner before mass changes at half time. Graham Burke and Janoi Donacien were our goalscorers putting us 2-1 in front before Boldmere struck back in the second half. Unlucky boys and as I said the result in these circumstances do not matter too much. Hopefully it’s another step in the development for a number of these players, with Villa fans holding very high hopes for a couple of our young stars.
Perhaps Gary ‘the better’ Gardner is the young player that Villa fans are most excited about, and he went close yesterday with a screaming effort that cannoned back off the woodwork. One interesting development with regards to Gary, is that he was pulled out of the England U’20 squad for the world cup, supposedly by the club. Hopefully this means that the powers to be have earmarked him for a more prominent role in the first team squad and the fact he has been given a squad number seems to suggest as much. While there are obvious benefits to him staying here, I’m sure going away to a world cup, at whatever level can only be a good thing. Still I’m not going to complain too much, from a selfish Aston Villa viewpoint, it’s absolutely the best decision to keep him at the club for the important preseason period, and I can’t wait to see him in action.
Now on to the first team squad and as mentioned it’s that time of year when we make the short journey to Walsall for what is usually a fun evening out. The first friendly before the start of a new season is always a good occasion, and I hope the travelling fans get firmly behind the players and especially our new manager. I’m sure they will and I’m sure the Villa faithful will be out in their thousands.
We don’t have too many new signings to look forward too, but Given should start the game and I’m really excited to see him between the sticks for our great club. Hopefully a few of the youngsters are given a game and I’m intrigued to see what formation AMC goes for, especially with no recognised left winger at the club. Perhaps Bannan might fill in, or even Warnock if the need arises. I’m just hoping it’s not Gabby. McLeish has already said that he wants to use him as a striker and I hope he is, he needs to start this season knowing he is going to play in his preferred position and I think he could have a good season in a central role.
Tonight though I’m most excited/intrigued to see where Stephen Ireland plays. AMC has reportedly been hugely impressed with his performances in training and while I’m loathe to use clichés such as ‘he’s like a new signing for us’ the fact is a motivated Ireland is, and can be a massive asset for us. I was a huge fan of his before he signed and was delighted when he was part of the Milner deal. It all went a bit wrong for him last season but I have a feeling he’s going to turn it around this season. We desperately need goals from midfield, especially in light of the two recent departures and I think he can provide these. McLeish could be perfect for Ireland and I hope he realises how lucky he is to be at the Villa and gives it everything he has. Time will tell.
Good luck to the boys tonight and for all those attending I hope you have a cracking night out with the added bonus of a convincing Villa victory!
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I don’t know if it’s the euphoria that we’ve actually made a signing, but the more I look and think about the Shay Given move, the more it feels like we’ve done something pretty special bringing him to Villa Park.
I’m not going to say he was my first choice, I was in the camp that wanted to bring in a younger goalkeeper and not have to worry about the position for the next 10 or so years. Still if you look at the options out there, we’ve arguably got the best available keeper on the market. Ali Al-Habsi was always likely to return to Wigan and after the tiny matter of stealing their manager from them, any negotiations with the Blues for the signing of Ben Foster would have been fraught with difficulties. I would have liked to have had a look at Kieren Westwood, but he’s an unproven quality in the premiership and after the departure of Mr Reliable Brad Friedel, we really needed someone to come in who’s done it consistently at this level. Make no mistake, Shay Given has, and before a tainted few years at Man City (sound familiar?), he was without doubt one of the very best goalkeepers in the league and possibly Europe.
I think we only have to look at the reaction of fellow football fans and people in the wider football world to know we’ve done well signing Given. I’m still getting used to Twitter but I’d say 99% of the people making comments on the move were leaving 140 positive characters. Arsenal fans in particular couldn’t believe our luck, and were equally as angry at Mr Wenger for not making a move. Man City and Newcastle fans were equally kind with what they had to say and you know something, it feels great. It’s nice that other fans are jealous of a move that the Villa make and it’s just as good to see hundreds of people say how well he’ll do for us and how well we’ve done bringing him here. Of course he has to produce now he’s made the move, but I think he’ll more than payback the £3.5 million spent on him.
Here are a few ‘tweet’s’ from those not directly linked with the Villa and as I said, they make for very pleasing reading:
Henry Winter (Telegraph journalist): Congratulations to avfc. Just signed one of best gks around in Shay Given. Upbeat dressing-room presence & fantastic club ambassador too.
Phil McNulty (BBC Sport journalist): Shay Given signs a five-year deal with Aston Villa. Excellent, experienced goalkeeper with plenty left to give.
Matt Holland (former footballer): Great business by AVFC. Replaced a 40 year old top keeper with a 35 year old better one IMO.
Yes he is 35 but to use one of football’s finer clichés, goalkeepers tend to get better as they get older and he has five years on our previous number one Friedel, a man who very rarely let us down.
It really is amazing the difference one signing can make, and it’s a great first purchase for our new manager Alex McLeish. I have faith he’s going to continue to make shrewd purchases and I honestly believe we may surprise a lot of people this season, the majority of whom are too quick to write us off.
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As mentioned previously, it has been a bit of a quiet time recently for Villa related news. We’re still linked to the same players daily, bar a few left field names (Salomon Kalou anyone) probably made up to sell newspapers or bring visitors to websites.
So it is rather exciting to see another one of our young stars, Nathan Delfouneso sign a new contract at Villa keeping him at the club until 2014. Firstly it’s really positive to see the club continue to sign our younger players to longer contracts, and the Fonz has joined a number of other players in signing a long term deal. Us Villa fans have known for years we have one of the very best youth academies in the country. Our recent invitation to the Next Gen under 19 tournament perhaps shows that the rest of Europe are starting to take note.
What is also pleasing is to see that rather than an individual making the step up, a whole group of players are. I hate to use the term ‘Golden Generation’ but if these players (Delfouneso, Bannan, Albrighton, Clark et al) reach their undoubted potential, it could be the start of something special here at the Villa. There are few things better than seeing one of your own play for the Villa, and it’s clear that our young group have a special link with AVFC. The Fonz has just said that Villa is “in my heart” and that is a beautiful thing to read. Forget your Downings’ of the world, these players actually care about the club, and that means everything.
While some aren’t as sure about the Fonz as some of the others coming through, I think he has what it takes to be a top striker for us. I saw him play for the England U’21′s against Iceland last season and he looked a top player, always a threat and taking his goal extremely well. He hasn’t really had too many chances at the Villa, and I’d love to see him given an extended run. He can only improve, and learning from one of the best strikers in the country (Darren Bent) and a player who has also come through the ranks (Agbonlahor) can only aide his development.
Yes it is frustrating at the moment with the lack of transfers but if you take a step back, look at the players we have coming through, you’ll soon realise it’s not all bad.
I wish Fonz the best of luck and I hope he goes on to be a Villa superstar.
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