Aston Villa Focus – Returning Vlaar may hold key to Villa survival

It has been two months since Aston Villa captain “Concrete Ron” was available for selection, and a lot has changed during his absence. A run of poor results has seen the Villa fans’ pre-season optimism slowly fade, and has now seen their team enter the relegation zone for only the second time this season.

Ron Vlaar was appointed captain of Aston Villa almost immediately after his arrival from previous club Feyenord during the summer, and his leadership qualities and defensive strength has been greatly missed by a Villa team that have conceded 22 goals in their last siz matches in all competitions. Fellow central defender and current skipper Ciaran Clark has welcomed the Dutchman’s return to the side from a calf injury, as the team prepares for a Midlands derby this weekend against highflying West Bromwich Albion:

“Ron’s been out for a while now so it was good to see him back on the bench last week. It’s good for the team and squad to see players like that coming back.”

His return will be a massive boost to under pressure manager Paul Lambert, but it will not fix the problems that spread throughout this Villa team. With 17 days already passed of the transfer window, Aston Villa are still yet to make a move in the market, as their fellow relegation candidates significantly strengthen. The news of Loic Remy’s arrival at QPR for a fee of around £8 million, and Yann M’Vila imminent arrival to the London based club will worry Villa many fans, as both players have proven themselves to be top quality assets in recent seasons. With Reading, Wigan and Southampton already adding to their squads as well, Villa must act now if they are to keep up with their competitors for this season.

With the returning Vlaar, there was also more good news this week as Villa stalwart Richard Dunne has now returned to full training following almost 6 months out with hip and groin problems. He is due back in action towards the end of January, and has yet to start a game for Villa so far this campaign.

A partnership between himself and Vlaar may be just what Villa need to shore up their defence, but it is protection from midfield which Villa have been severely lacking throughout the campaign. Although manager Paul Lambert has declared Tottenham midfielder Scott Parker out of reach, a player of similar combative nature is exactly what Villa need to add some steel to what has been for the most part a very flimsy central midfield.

Two weeks remain in the transfer window, and Lambert must act fast to ensure his team do not face their first relegation from the Premier League. With Villa already in a precarious position, a lot of damage has already been done, but with the returning Vlaar and Dunne alongside fellow experienced players Gabriel Agbonlahor and Darren Bent, they at least have a basis to build their relegation fight from.


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