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Can they make the breakthrough?
Aston Villa F.C.
Member Name: Carrow Road Canary
Aston Villa F.C.
Date: 05/09/01, updated on 05/09/01 (33 review reads)
Advantages: Good on paper
Disadvantages: Maybe not ambitious
Aston Villa are, undoubtedly, the Premiership’s underachievers. They consistently finish in the top half of the table, but without ever threatening any of the bigger clubs.
Could the 2001-2002 season be the one where Villa finally make the breakthrough.
John Gregory – Outspoken, especially in his attacks on various referees, Gregory has to prove his credentials as a top class Premiership manager. After a successful spell at Wycombe Doug Ellis was quick to sign Gregory, whose main job this season has to keep his discontented squad happy – it is probably not far out to say that more want to leave than want to stay.
The question is, how long will ‘Deadly’ Doug give Gregory before looking for a replacement.
The signing of Peter Schmeichel may prove to be the signing of the summer. After several successful seasons with Man Utd the Dane has returned to England. Despite criticism at Sporting Lisbon last season, Schmeichel should prove that he is still one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Along with his solid defence, Peter Schmeichel will concede few goals this year.
After losing Ugo Ehiogu and Gareth Southgate, both to Middlesborough, the solid defence that Villa have always had looked in danger of falling apart. But youngster Gareth Barry, highly rated Olof Mellberg and Alpay will help to ensure that the Midlands club are difficult to break down.
Full/wing backs Steve Stone, Alan Wright and Mark Delaney are a constant threat on the attack, as well as helping out at the back.
On paper Aston Villa’s midfield is very strong indeed. They have 7 quality midfielders who are likely to be competing for 3 places if Gregory insists on playing his preferred 5-3-2 formation.
Paul Merson is the best of these and should be an automatic choice if he can reproduce his form over the last cou
ple of seasons. The out of favour David Ginola is still a brilliant player on his day, and should be able to win several points for Villa with his trademark solo efforts. Ian Taylor has been at Villa Park for ever and, although he will not be a first choice player, Taylor will be an important part of the squad and should provide good cover. Lee Hendrie has promised for a long time now, but is yet to produce any consistency, while George Boateng failed to play as well as he did at Coventry.
Two Moroccans complete the seven with Hassan Kachloul and Mustapha Hadji both capable goalscoring midfielders.
Last season this was a real problem area for John Gregory’s team. However this season things could change for the better.
Juan Pablo Angel was arguably the Premiership flop of last season – a big money arrival from Argentina, Angel was paraded as a natural goalscorer – his tally was 0. However he seems to have regained some confidence and now looks like the player Villa hoped they were getting.
Darius Vassel looks, at the moment, like one of England’s best young strikers – he seems to have everything and will be looking to force his way into the England senior squad in the next couple of years.
Dion Dublin couldn’t stop scoring when he first joined the Birmingham club but after suffering a broken neck, Dublin has not even looked half the player he was. Last season he was woeful in front of goal and will surely start the season as 3rd choice striker behind Angel and Vassell.
Possible line up (5-3-2)
If Juan Pablo Angel and Darius Vassell can score goals then Aston Villa should be looking at a possible 6th place finish behind the big five of Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal, Leeds and Chelsea.
They don’t c
oncede many, but they don’t score many either – everything hinges on Aston Villa’s strikers.