Matthew Lowton was one of Aston Villa’s standout performers last season, despite it being his first ever campaign in the Premier League, and back in August, he looked set to produce even more this time around with some experience behind him. Unfortunately, things have not quite turned out that way and the 24-year-old has only just regained his place in the starting line-up after over a month out of the team.
The former Sheffield United player made a mockery of his inexperience throughout Paul Lambert’s first season in charge at Villa Park, where he was a virtual ever-present. As 2012-13 came to a close he was beginning to show form which seriously suggested that the club really had a player on their hands.
Along with Christian Benteke, whose contribution to Villa’s cause has been far more noticeable, Lowton looked a player to keep an eye on going into this season, but over the first few games of the new campaign – particularly during defeats at home to Liverpool and Newcastle United – he was a disappointment.
Lowton lacked quality going forward and struggled to provide service for the front three, with most of Villa’s threat coming down the left side from Antonio Luna and Gabriel Agbonlahor. Defensively, he looked shaky, and was particularly at fault for the Magpies’ winner, when he was caught flat-footed and allowed Yoan Gouffran too much time to tuck the ball past Brad Guzan.
That lapse in concentration saw Lowton disappear for the next five games, and Villa’s form temporarily improved as they gained hard-earned victories over Norwich City and Manchester City, before they were held at Hull, and suffered home reverses against Tottenham and Everton. On two of those occasions, he found himself out of the match day squad altogether.
During that sequence, Lowton must have been even more frustrated, in some ways, at the sight of Leandro Bacuna – not a natural right-back – playing better than he had in that position prior to his absence. Thankfully for Lowton, he was back in favour for the game at West Ham United at the beginning of November, but a mere substitute appearance against Cardiff City last time out was proof that he had far from regained his place in the starting XI.
Now the final international break of 2013 is over and the festive period is not too far away with the games arriving more regularly, this is the chance for Lowton to prove himself again to the Villa management and make up for his indifferent start to the season.
Based on the form he showed over the course of 2012-13, he clearly has the ability to do so, and make the right-back slot his own once more. Lowton has already admitted his form has not been up to scratch, so now is the time to rediscover his form and prove to Lambert that he is once again worthy of a consistent starting place, starting with Monday evening’s visit to local rivals West Bromwich Albion.
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