Time for the next team to get the Crystal Ball treatment… the mighty Villains. I personally think they will be VERY fantasy prominent this year, and am taking the risk on a couple of their players. Lambert promises to bring an attacking 4-4-2 formation, but who is assured of a spot? I thought you’d never ask….
Well… here it is!
Also a very tough team to put together. The new manager has already criticised some of the players last year who featured prominently under McLeish. The formation will slightly tweak from a 4-4-1-1 to a 4-4-2 under Lambert, the same formation which propelled Norwich to a mid table finish.
I’m fairly confident that Lowton, a summer signing, will pip Hutton to the RB slot, especially seeing as Lambert tried to sell the latter this transfer window. Unsurprisingly they had no takers…
He also tried to move on last year’s LB Warnock, which leads me to believe that he’ll start the left footed CB in Clark in the left-back slot. If he doesn’t start here, I think he’ll still start in a CB, so don’t hesitate in picking him up if you’re expecting game time. Collins and Dunne look the likeliest to hold down the CB posts, although there is talks of Vlaar (a dutch international centre-half) coming to Villa. If he does come, expect the rumours of Collins moving to West Ham to be true, and Vlaar would be afforded the start above him.
EDIT: The news has just come through that Collins has completed his move to West Ham. This means as it stands, Clark would slot into a CB and Warnock would get the gig as a Left-back. If Vlaar ends up being signed, which I expect he will be, Warnock will go back to the bench!
Here’s where things get a little more interesting…With Albrighton sidelined with no return date, the left and right mid slots are still up for grabs. It looks like N’Zogbia has cemented a spot on the wing in an attacking side…. I’m licking my lips. It also means that Holman looks to get a gig on the left side. However, if Lambert decides to stick with Weimann up front, Agbonlahor looks like he could jump out onto a wing also. El Ahmadi has been impressive this pre-season, and Ireland looked to be hitting his straps finally at the back end of last season. These two could very easily be replaced by Bannan, Herd or Delph though. I think especially with Lambert’s “Rotate or die” policy we saw last year, there isn’t much value in Villa’s CM’s.
Up front, Bent looks like a solid option provided that he’s fit. He’s still nursing an injury and in doubt for the start of the year, so watch his pre-season closely. Agbonlahor is the other straightforward option up front, but if he moves to the midfield expect Weimann to drop in next to Bent. Monitor his fitness though, because he too has been injured this pre-season.
Overall, Villa are entirely unpredictable. A new manager, coupled with new signings and injury concerns could mean anything goes for GW 1. Expect the team to be heavily rotated too, which will be bloody frustrating, as Lambert showed last year he’s not afraid of playing everybody on his squad.
Any questions let me know, or if you have alternative views, chuck them in the comments below! Remember, this is only a guide, and my prediction.