Aston Villa Focus – Villa youngsters must utilise their 12th man

After a great performance in midweek defeating the Champions of England in the Capital One cup, it was back to the struggles of Premier League as Villa failed to win at home once more in a 1-1 draw to local rivals West Bromwich Albion. Villa Park was almost full to capacity, as the Holte End have rediscovered their voice under new manager Paul Lambert. The support was terrific, but Lambert must ensure his young players use the noise in their favour, and not shy under the pressure.

There was a start for Joe Bennett and Matt Lowton in defence, starting together for the first time in the league since their arrivals from Middlesbrough and Sheffield United respectively, and neither player seemed to handle the occasion too well. Lowton was renowned for his attacking runs from right back at Sheffield United, similar to former Villa and Sheffield star Kyle Walker, but he looked awkward throughout as he struggled to cope with the pace of the game. It was a case of poor communication between himself and newly appointed captain Ron Vlaar that led to West Brom’s opener, as Dutchman Vlaar attempted to catch James Morrison and Shane Long offside despite Lowton playing them both on. Joe Bennett also looked nervous, with several passes going astray as he failed to make his mark in the game. His slight figure was also a weakness to Aston Villa as West Brom’s power shone throughout the match. Bennett did improve as the game progressed, but he will need to believe more in his own ability if he is to be a success at Villa Park.

21-year old Christian Benteke was another youngster who started and failed to impress against the Baggies, unable to get into the game before being substituted early on in the first half for Villa’s eventual goal scorer Darren Bent. He was another player who looked to be overwhelmed by the occasion, his hold up play and first touch often letting him down. His substitution was no surprise to the Villa crowd, and Lambert’s decision paid dividends as his replacement Darren Bent went on to grab the equaliser for Aston Villa.

Paul Lambert truly believes that his young players deserves the chance to prove whether they have the quality to perform at the highest level of English football. The Premier League is unforgiving however and it will provide a very steep learning curve for Villa’s several young guns. With only one win in the Villains’ opening six fixtures, their worst start to a season in the history of the Premier League, Paul Lambert’s gamble of relying on youth is currently looking to be a mistake. With tough away fixtures to in form Tottenham and Fulham coming up in the next two fixtures, Villa’s position of 15th in the table may not be improved on in the immediate future. Lambert will keep faith with his young acquisitions, but as the West Brom game on Sunday proved, it may be the more experienced players that could prove Lambert’s saviour. 

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