Aston Villa Focus – Bad week as relegation battle heats up

Three points at half-time, zero at full-time. It’s been a story that has repeated itself too many times this season for Villa, and struck once more against Liverpool on Sunday as they clawed back from 1-0 down to gain a 2-1 victory in the second half.

If football games lasted 45 minutes, Aston Villa would be safe in mid-table pushing for a European place, but those second 45 minutes are the reason that this once great Midlands team now sits in the bottom three positions yet again this season.

So why is it that Villa struggle so much in the second period of matches? The answer is plain and simple, and has been staring manager Paul Lambert in the face throughout the campaign. Without experience, and without true leaders, it is almost impossible for a team such as Aston Villa to see out 90 minutes.

With the pressures of the modern game, and the cauldron of nerves that Villa Park can be sometimes, it takes a level headed professional to calm a game down and lead by example. Unfortunately with Richard Dunne out injured for what looks like the entire campaign, and much of Villa’s experienced players seeking pastures new in recent years, it is a category of player that the club are severely lacking in.

Villa lost on Sunday due to poor decisions by young players. Paul Lambert has defended his team throughout the campaign, declaring that without them being given a chance in the first team to perform at the highest level, they will never have the confidence to succeed in the game of football.

With 31 games now played of the season, every player at Aston Villa has been given their chance to succeed, and very few have taken it. This weekend it was Nathan Baker’s rash challenge on Luis Suarez which earned Liverpool a penalty to clinch the decisive goal, but there were several other poor performances from several other Villa youngsters.

Matt Lowton was caught out more than once as his poor positioning gave Liverpool players chance to play simple passes through the defence. Joe Bennett was caught up the pitch for the equaliser – a position he should never have been in when Villa were looking to hold onto to what they had at the start of the second half. Barry Bannan looked frightened on the ball, and almost gifted a goal in the first half as his wayward pass played Luis Suarez straight through on goal, with Brad Guzan coming to the rescue the situation once more.

It has been a season that has promised so much, but delivered so little for the Villa faithful. The same can be said for many of the younger players at Villa for their careers so far, and it will be up to Paul Lambert to make sure that they perform to the potential that they have shown too fleetingly this campaign as the final seven games of the season approach.

Villa have shown effort and determination throughout those 31 matches, and did so again this weekend against Liverpool, but the mistakes from their younger players have cost them three points time and time again, something which could prove fatal as they sit in the bottom three places in the Premier League.

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