Unbeaten runs, back to back away victories, and a free-scoring football team. These have just been pipe dreams for Aston Villa fans of late, but now these words fully describe exactly how their team has been playing.
Paul Lambert may not have believed his week could have got any better following a superb 4-1 victory over his old employers Norwich City, knocking them out of the competition and helping his new team progress to the semi-finals. The amazing 3-1 victory achieved over Liverpool in their own back garden on Saturday was the cherry on the cake for the Scotsman, and shows that his ideals and beliefs are beginning to be transferred to his young group of players.
It was Villa’s youngest ever starting line up on Saturday in the Premier League, but their performance was certainly that of men and not of the boys that they are. Without injured senior players Gabby Agbonlahor, Darren Bent, Richard Dunne, Ron Vlaar, and the still recovering Stiliyan Petrov, they were missing every current squad member that has captained their side for the previous year. A team without leaders, but after their success in midweek along with a four match unbeaten run in the league, it was a team with true belief in their own ability. Christian Benteke scored one and set up two in midweek for strike partner Andreas Weimann, and their sharp link up was evident once more in the game at Anfield, with Benteke himself grabbing a brace this time around. Villa were under pressure for periods of the game, but Lambert’s new 3-5-2 formation defended very convincingly once more, and the win saw Villa rise to 14th in the league.
Benteke has been in fine form ever since his debut goal at home to Swansea, and with Weimann back in the starting line up linking up impressively with the tall Belgian, Villa really do look a force up front. Agbonlahor and Bent both missed the game through injury, but with the two Villa youngsters Weimann and Benteke in fine form at the moment, it will be hard to see a way back into the side for the two senior professionals.
With Ciaran Clark, Nathan Baker and Chris Herd looking very solid in defence once more against Liverpool, the future looks very bright for Aston Villa. Paul Lambert will be the first to tell his players not to get too carried away with their current impressive form, and they will have to continue that top form if they are to pick up anything from their next two league fixtures; Chelsea away and Tottenham Hostpur at Villa Park on Boxing Day.
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