Aston Villa‘s win over Manchester City displayed how their squad this season is likely to make them push on, away from the fearful areas of relegation battling in the Premier League.
Paul Lambert‘s young side is exactly that, young. But they are progressing all the time, and it is evident now that not only have several matured into stronger players, but the new additions are helping them continue to take their challenges to the opposition, even when regulars are absent.
Having kept Christian Benteke this summer, it was universally decided that it was probably one of the most important bits of contract work in the Premier League. But Lambert’s signings, on top of that togetherness, is proving strong.
Libor Kozak appears to be the second choice striker, and a decent one too. His power and eye for goal may not be quite the same as Benteke’s, but it’s at a level that easily makes him decent cover. The concerns for Villa were always going to be how to deal with Benteke’s injury, but even with Gabriel Agbonlahor out as well, Villa is looking to be a force, as Man City found out.
One man whose importance you cannot underestimate is Andreas Weimann; his work rate and energy are seriously rewarding, and it is clear to me that manager Lambert sees Weimann as a key tool in his side. He’s like this free spirit who has a confidence to mix with the best defenders and work with Benteke, despite the Belgian clearly being the priority, in terms of chances.
But perhaps one important factor, more than any individual performances, is the togetherness. That young squad has now grown together with Lambert for around two seasons. There must be a real close connection between the players, and it is evident that they are all working for each other. Leandro Bacuna‘s free-kick against Man City conveyed a lot — having found the net Bacuna ran straight towards manager Lambert; they trust him. They’re enjoying and fully in tune with what Lambert is trying to build and work on. It’s great to see this young group of players, who were written off last season, become good and begin to look like a strong, dangerous opposition.
Of course, experience may prove to be their weak point as the season progresses, but as we saw towards the end of last season, their will to succeed is something that sometimes you just can’t match.