Saturday, 24 January 2015

Are Villa really a team in crisis?

It feels like deja vu to me. Here we are in a cup competition with a Premier League side assembled with far more money than the Cherries and with a wealth of experience and history, and yet AFCB are the team that the media are building up and expecting to cause an upset. Sound familiar? I seem to remember something similar in December when the mighty reds came down to Dean Court with Stephen Gerrard apparently no longer the great player that we all know and love.

Okay, Villa may not have a Steven Gerrard in their side and yes, they have only scored 11 goals in the Premier League against teams that are the best in the land, but does that make them easy pickings for the Cherries? Well, AFCB certainly have a good record against teams from the Birmingham area in the last few months, but make no mistake Aston Villa have plenty of quality that they can put out on the field. Their squad is a who's who of internationals and famous names. But Benteke and Agbonlahor are going through a barren patch, Nzogbia, Delph, Cleverly, Sanchez, Westood and Cole have failed to inspire or create in the middle and even Guzan is being questioned about some of his performances in goal.

Of course Villa like Liverpool probably just need a good win in a cup match like this to get their season going. That is what makes me nervous. Villa have nothing going for them or do they? I already hear good things about their new signing from Valencia Carlos Gil de Pareja Vicent. Pundits also forget that they have only let in 25 goals this season, only six other teams have let in as few or less goals in the Premier League this season. Moreover, the Villa fans did not protest as much as was expected for the first eight minutes of the Liverpool match. It will be a big crowd and the Villa fans will be in full voice and behind their new signing with a full Holt end. Alan Shearer commented in the Sun newspaper at the start of last week that Villa were in a sad predicament and was asking who can save the Villa now? I still venture that they are a strong Premier League outfit that will be a very tough team for AFCB to beat as they will be desperate not to go out early in the FA Cup once again to lower league opposition. 

It could be a contest that sees a lively AFCB attack against the defensive qualities of Cissokho, Hutton, Baker and Okore. However, I suspect it will be a cautious affair as Eddie Howe will be aware that it is easy to get sucked into all out attack, and Villa Park is a big pitch where it will be easy to leave a team exposed.

What I don't like is when the media over hype the prospect of a big team about to take a tumble and for that reason I am glad that this FA Cup tie is not a televised match. The pressure might be off the Cherries, but this is a big match. Sadly, we have not seen AFCB play as well as we might have hoped when it comes to such matches. Perhaps this time though they will pull it off, like they did against West Brom in November. It will need the same kind of endeavour and focus for the whole 90 minutes. The balancing fact for me is that the Cherries are playing away. Strangely, that seems to be a big positive for AFCB this season, although I would not rule out the prospect of a replay.

But if Villa do lose this match, it could be a very difficult day for Paul Lambert. At that point, Villa could be a club in crisis.   

Make sure you check out my interview with A Villa Fan which you can see below this story or click on Rival Lines to read.

All Departments has a great interview with Shaun Teale online today. Listen by visiting All Departments' website or scroll down Cherry Chimes' right hand panel and click on the All Departments' sound bar.

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