Aston Villa fans have been dreaming of what the season may lay ahead for them after their first home win against Swansea last time out, but those dreams have quickly turned to nightmares once more as they slumped to their second away defeat to a newly promoted side this season.
The first came at the hands of West Ham, a tight game which really could have gone either way. The 4-1 thrashing by Southampton on Saturday is much more of a worry for boss Paul Lambert, as his side looked second best throughout and were well beaten by a side who had not picked up a point in their first four fixtures of the season. Lambert knows he has a lot of work to do if he is to change the fortunes of a club who were once considered a giant of English football but seem to be shrinking in stature with each passing year.
Unfortunately there are several key factors that are leading to Villa’s decline in recent years. The sale of several key players throughout the past four years is usually where most people point their finger when discussing the downfall of Villa, but this is not the key factor. Many teams have sold their best players and still remain a force. Everton have been a club that have always produced their own talent, selling them on to help keep their team competitive. Recently they saw their young starlet Jack Rodwell move to Manchester City in a deal reportedly worth around £17 million, but this has not stopped them from recording a very impressive start to their campaign. We have seen Arsenal consistently sell their best players and yet they still remain arguably one of the top three or four sides in England.
The key is the players that are brought in to replace the ones that have left for pastures new. Paul Lambert made a big decision in breaking up a defence that had once lead the team to a 6th place finish under former manager Martin O’Neill, by selling James Collins to West Ham, and deeming Stephen Warnock surplus to requirements. New signing Ron Vlaar as well as youth products Eric Lichaj and Ciaran Clark looked completely out of their depth against Southampton, lacking an experienced Premier League presence around them as they looked out of shape from the outset. For Lambert’s decision to be vindicated, he will need much improvement from a defence that currently looks leakier than the Titanic.
Villa have not won two Premier League games in a row since the 22nd of April 2011 when victory away to Arsenal was followed by a final day victory at home to Liverpool, so Villa fans should have known what to expect following the win they achieved against Swansea last Saturday. Lambert must sure up his woeful defence if they are to improve against West Bromwich Albion next weekend, as a few more performances like the one against Southampton could see his side in real trouble.
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