Now we have all endured watching San Marino try and play the beautiful game, it’s back to the real football.
Villa’s next fixture takes us back to the Walkers Crisp Bowl to face off against an unpredictable Leicester side, who now find themselves under the stewardship of Claudio Ranieri.
Villa have been improving game on game, but now is the time for things to begin to click. A win will reinforce the feeling amongst most fans that we are making measured, steady progress. A defeat will likely raise some questions about exactly what the road-map for the season actually is.
In short, our league position is current marked as ‘acceptable’, let’s put it that way.
A great deal hinges on whether Sherwood is willing to gamble the inclusion of more creativity, at the expense of leaving us more exposed at the back. The defence has had a very mixed opening few games, but this has been tempered by some improving football and the air that we finally carry a threat amongst the squad.
Whether exciting Barcelona signing Adama will be fit remains to be seen. After turning Palace inside out with his first touches and running rings around Notts County until forced off injured; he had already demonstrated enough to suggest his inclusion in the side will only be a good thing.
Adama will be too good for most fullbacks in the Premier League, we need to get him fit and terrorising.
In his absence we need Grealish to find his form and put to bed the murmurs of second season syndrome. Jack has a lot riding on his young shoulders, but all of the pedigree to cause Leicester some damage. Carles Gil’s career has been stop-start – we really need him to start hurting teams.
Gana’s likely absence in the middle will certainly be a big loss. He has been the stand out purchase of the summer so far, but the sublime Carlos Sanchez should be an able substitute. Sanchez, still marmite amongst some sections of supporters owing to his casual nature, is the skillful, composed figure we need.
Sherwood also has a couple of big calls that don’t hinge on possible injuries. Does he include Lescott? Whilst I’m a big admirer of the resurrection of Ciaran Clark’s Villa career, it wouldn’t be a shock on current form to see him drop out in favour Lescott alongside Richards. Equally, a back three is not beyond the realms of possibility if we intend to go with a defensive mindset.
We must, however, start to make our mind up about our strikers. Sinclair is an absolute no brainer for me. Tricky, in form and scores with his head and feet. Anything other than a start for Sinclair would suggest a touch of “I didn’t buy him” syndrome.
Then we need to make a decision on Ayew and Gestede. This depends upon how we approach the game. If opting for a defensive set up, the big man Rudy fits the bill. Inveitably it will be set pieces and long balls all day. If we are going to be playing the channels and need a nimble figure, Ayew should be employed.
For me, the strikers at Villa Park have suffered owing to some suspect tactics in the early part of the season. It’s time we got the set up right – and on that basis not put Gabby back into the team either. We’ve seen nothing from Gabby this term…but then…is this a “derby”?
A quick word on the sudden admiration and revisionism regarding Marc Albrighton. Marc was a loyal servant, but alas, simply not good enough. He also wasn’t nearly good enough in one of the worst Villa sides in living memory. Ask yourself the last time you honestly wished you had him back at Villa Park? Exactly. (Will now play a blinder).
Leicester hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for us in recent years. We’ve won just one of our last nine visits. A reflection of just how poor we’ve been on the road for too many years. Still, we are a renewed side, carry a threat & records are there to be broken.
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