For almost a year now, Andreas Weimann has been a first team regular under Paul Lambert at Aston Villa, and he has thrived on the experience with consistently good performances. However, his regular starting place could be lost following the arrival of Lazio striker Libor Kozak, who has not come to sit on the bench.
2012-13 was Weimann’s breakthrough season. With just a handful of appearances and two goals prior to Lambert’s appointment, he justified his manager’s decision to select him ahead of more experienced forward players, such as Darren Bent and Charles N’Zogbia, on a regular basis.
It was his partnership with Christian Benteke that caught the eye most, with the Austrian playing a valuable supporting role while displaying his own goalscoring abilities with 12 in all competitions, more than helping to prevent relegation to the Championship last season.
But the signing of Kozak on transfer deadline day does raise some questions as to how Villa will now line up in attack. The trio of Weimann, Benteke, and Gabriel Agbonlahor has been the Lambert’s chosen formula for several matches now, and the Czech international has been brought in to provide some much needed competition.
Of the three, Weimann is the most likely to lose his place in the starting XI with Benteke having become Villa’s talisman, representing a major presence up front, while Agbonlahor has been a regular – whenever fit and available – for several seasons.
Swapping Weimann for Kozak could lead to the employment of tactics similar to those that were successful under Martin O’Neill, although the current options provide much more mobility than the likes of John Carew and Emile Heskey, who mainly acted as straightforward target men.
To many, a more one-dimensional approach would represent a step backwards. Despite positive results being gained on a less than consistent basis, Lambert has made this team much more entertaining to watch than under his predecessors, and it has allowed several youngsters to develop their talents.
And Lambert is unlikely to change his entire system to accommodate each of his four forward players, so for Weimann, being dropped to the bench would be a big disappointment after showing many positive signs and demonstrating his potential.
It would be a step back in the 22-year-old’s fledgling career after signing a new contract during the summer in the wake of interest from Norwich City. At times, he perhaps lacks the ruthlessness in front of goal that Kozak and Benteke provide, but he has been a very effective contributor during his time in the first team.
Of course, what Lambert decides remains to be seen, but signing Kozak is a statement of intent. The Czech has shown evidence of his goalscoring prowess with his exploits in last season’s Europa League, and during Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier in Italy.
On the whole, it gives an indication that the club is once again moving in the right direction after two tough campaigns, although Weimann may have less of a role to play than he has had so far with Lambert’s guidance.
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