Aston Villa Focus - Guzan remains committed amid Arsenal interest
In recent days, Paul Lambert has had to deal with the first major piece of transfer speculation involving Aston Villa since the summer, as goalkeeper Brad Guzan has been linked with a move to Premier League leaders Arsenal - but the American has responded himself by showing impressive loyalty to the West Midlands club.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has, according to reports, been impressed by Guzan’s performances for Villa. It is easy to see why as the 29-year-old has shown a remarkable degree of consistency since taking over from Shay Given as first-choice at Villa Park, rarely having a bad game.
For Guzan, it represents an amazing turnaround in his career, having been shown a great deal a faith by Lambert, who has provided him with the opportunity that he must have thought had passed him by: playing regular top-flight football in Europe, as he was initially released by Villa in the summer of 2012.
Some may point to the fact that he has conceded 73 goals in his 44 games as Villa No.1, but he has invariably been let down by those in front of him. The defence has often proved vulnerable, particularly last season, where goals were sometimes being shipped at an alarming rate.
A move to Arsenal would offer Guzan a fair chance of continuing to play regularly in the Premier League. There have been question marks over current first-choice Wojciech Szczesny for a reasonable period of time, although none of the back-up options have proven good enough to replace him. Guzan undoubtedly has the quality to play for a top four side, but it would come down to whether he can handle the greater pressure that comes with it.
However, when asked about the speculation, he said: “Aston Villa, they've stuck by me, especially the manager. He's given me a chance to play consistent football in Europe. It's always nice when you're linked with other teams, but for me, I'm very happy at Aston Villa. It's a club that I think is definitely on the rise, and it's something I want to be a part of.”
That sort of commitment commands respect at a time where club loyalty is becoming increasingly rare, due to wage demands and the heavy influence of agents. And Villa are a club on the rise and looking set to challenge for a finish in the top half after two difficult seasons. Of course, consistency remains a problem, but they are now looking much better equipped.
While the situation concerning Guzan is more likely to be decided in the months ahead, on the immediate horizon is the visit of Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. It is a chance to build on the encouraging league form shown before the international break, but Villa’s record against the Spurs in recent seasons has been pitiful, with Tottenham winning 4-0 when they met in the Capital One Cup on September 24.
Villa will fancy their chances a little more if they have Christian Benteke available, with the striker hoping to recover from a hip flexor injury for the first of two successive home fixtures.
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