Paul Lambert knew that his first game in charge of Aston Villa would be anything but a walk in the Upton Park, and that was proven to be the case as newly promoted West Ham were the victors with a closely fought 1-0 win. There were positives for Villa to take out of the game – the control of the midfield through tight passing and keeping possession was definitely an improvement on the hurried counter-attacks employed under former boss Alex McLeish.
Lambert is well aware though that in this line of work you are judged on the results you achieve, and a 1-0 loss to a team that struggled at times in the Championship for home form is not good enough.
Despite the disappointment of the opening day loss to West Ham, Lambert is expected to get a terrific reception on Saturday as he prepares for his first home match in charge of the Midlands club against a strong-looking Everton side.
Pre-season would usually have afforded him the chance to make his home bow but due to the Community Shield being held at Villa Park this year, Lambert was unable to experience what it is like to walk out onto the pitch in charge of the once great club. When he first took charge of Aston Villa he stated that the home form would be one key factor that would need to improve, and called on the Villa faithful to make it an uncomfortable place once again for any visiting team.
To improve on the dismal home performances last time round, where the team only achieved three victories at home all season in the league, Lambert has to get Villa scoring again. He admitted after the West Ham loss that although some of the football his team played was great to watch, it meant nothing unless you are creating enough chances to score, which was the problem once more at Upton Park.
Darren Bent looked a lonely figure up front as the service to him was poor throughout the match, and Lambert knows that providing chances for the former Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur striker will be key in ensuring Villa find their scoring touch against Everton on Saturday. Under former manager Gerard Houllier the £24m man scored 10 goals in his first 17 league games following his arrival from the Black Cats in January 2011, and Lambert will be hoping he can provide the team with a similar start to this campaign.
It may be that a second striker is needed to support Bent, or that the attacking wide players of Charles N’Zogbia and Brett Holman that started against West Ham need to push further up field to help provide Bent with the crosses to convert. The tactics are up for Lambert to decide, as he looks set to face an Everton side who were very impressive in their opening game victory against former champions Manchester United.
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