92 clubs favourite players – Aston Villa – Gabriel Agbonlahor

The second of the 92 clubs I am going to choose my favourite player from is Aston Villa and they have been a solid team in the Premier League for a long time and have even qualified for Europe on several occasions.

The player I have chosen is someone that has been at the club through some tough times and also some good times and that man is Gabriel Agbonlahor. He has played for Villa under six different managers and has the achievement to have scored under every single one of them. This includes Kevin MacDonald, David O’Leary, Gerard Houllier, Alex McLeish, Martin O’Neill and now Paul Lambert. It was under O’Neill that he really started to show his potential by scoring 49 goals in 175 games and helping them to good finishes in the league. This season so far the goals haven’t been flowing for him but in his first five Premier League games he has assisted four goals and shown that he has had to adapt his game over the years from a central striker to a winger and he is still a massive threat to every team.
Agbonlahor]
It did take him a few years to adapt to the new role after an impressive start to his career as a striker. In his first four full seasons at the club he scored double figures in all of these in the Premier League and now has 63 goals in the league all together and will be hoping that he can get into the elite group of players that has scored 100 goals in the Premier League in the coming years. Last year he returned to goal scoring form by getting 12 goals in all competitions and by linking up with Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann he will get more opportunities to score and assist goals.

Personally I think Agbonlahor should have been given more chances in the England set up, he does have three caps and performed quite well in all of the games particularly in a win against Germany where he had a goal disallowed and caused real problems with his pace. Recently England have been struggling to find consistent wingers and front men which is why I cannot believe he hasn’t even been called up recently. His form is certainly better than Ashley Young and adds a lot more going forward than James Milner. Plus he has a lot more experience than Andros Townsend and Raheem Sterling and is still only 26 so he has a lot to offer.

He came through the Villa youth team so obviously the fans are going to like him a lot but something else that makes them love him is the fact that he has a brilliant record against one of their nearest rivals Birmingham City. Scoring four times in seven games in the Midlands Derby is a very good record and his performances have helped his side beat their rivals in five of the seven games you know the fans will have a lot of respect for your talents.

Who is your favourite player at Aston Villa? Does Agbonlahor deserve another chance on the international stage? Can Paul Lambert get the best out of Agbonlahor?

Advertisements

Is Aiden McGeady’s future in the Premier League and who would he help improve?

Spartak Moscow winger Aiden McGeady has been linked with a move to the Premier League in the last couple of days because his agent has said that he would consider a move if an offer came in for him.

The former Celtic man has been in Russia since 2010 and has been in good form in recent weeks which has made a lot of clubs notice him once again. When he left Celtic he went off the radar slightly as in the past he has been in a very similar position with many teams wanting his services. He won the Player of the Month award three times whilst at Celtic as well as four Young Player of the Month awards so there is no doubting his qualities.

So would any Premier League teams want him and will they be willing to pay quite a high transfer fee for him? Spartak paid around £9.5 million for the winger so they will want at least that if not more but if the player claims he is not happy in Russia and wants to move back to the UK then their hands may be tied and will have to sell him. But, let’s look at who would be interested in him. First team that comes to mind is Sunderland because Martin O’Neill gave him his chance at Celtic and obviously knows what he can bring to the side. His trickery on the wing would be a very useful asset to most teams and a team like Sunderland who are quick on the counter attack could certainly use him. However, Sunderland do have a lot of wingers currently with James McClean, Seb Larsson and new signing Adam Johnson on the books but Larsson could play inside as a central midfielder and even McGeady could play inside just behind the striker. Yet again though, that would cause problems with Stephane Sessegnon usually playing in that role. If Sunderland want to be genuine contenders for a European place or trophies then I think they need some better players and McGeady would give them a lot of strength in depth.

Next, I think that Aston Villa, if they could afford him should be looking to sign him in January as they do have quite a young side and some of their wingers just haven’t lived up to their potential, in particular, Charles N’Zogbia. With Marc Albrighton and Gabriel Agbonlahor (who I think will definitely be a winger under Paul Lambert) struggling with a few injuries at the moment they do seem a little weak out wide. Barry Bannan is inexperienced so he will not be able to produce his best every week and Brett Holman is new to the league so he may also be inconsistent for the first few weeks. If they brought in McGeady they would have a little extra cutting edge and someone that can do something a little special when the game isn’t going quite right for them which is something I think they lack at the moment.

Finally, a team that may be looking to sign him is Newcastle United because they, like Villa, also lacking that little bit of spark, especially if Hatem Ben Arfa is having an off day. They are another team that doesn’t have many wingers that are going to be able to produce consistently. Jonas Gutierrez always does a solid job but in the attacking third his final ball isn’t the best. Sylvain Marveux has had injury problems and has only started two games in the Premier League so he is a difficult one to judge but then the next option is Gabriel Obertan who has not lived up to his potential at either Manchester United or Newcastle so they should maybe look to get rid of him in January anyway and a perfect replacement would be Aiden McGeady.

Will Jermain Defoe leave Tottenham Hotspur this summer?

Jermain Defoe may be the only experienced striker at Tottenham Hotspur but surprisingly he has been linked with a move away.

Defoe has scored 15 goals in 48 games for England

Last season was a frustrating one for the former Portsmouth striker as he only started 11 Premier League games and was constantly overlooked because Harry Redknapp wanted to play with Rafael Van Der Vaart just behind Emmanuel Adebayor. He wouldn’t have fit into their system that well last year in my opinion and that is the reason why he struggled for game time. When he on the pitch though he mostly produced the goods scoring 11 times in his 25 appearances and 17 in 38 games in all competitions so he has proved he does still have the quality to succeed in the Premier League and his career isn’t coming to an end. I was very surprised to see him linked with a move away but maybe he just isn’t an Andre Villas-Boas type of player but with a deal for Adebayor not completed yet he may be forced to use Defoe at least for the start of the season. The England international has 195 goals in his career so far and will be desperate to get to 200 goals as quickly as possible and to do that he may have to leave if he isn’t guaranteed first team football.

QPR have been heavily linked with him and they do have the funds to buy him and pay the wages so I can’t see why this transfer wouldn’t go through unless the player himself wants to play for a team challenging at the top of the table. However, QPR are building a good squad and may be outsiders for a European place in the coming season and could be a good shout for a cup win. He could compliment Bobby Zamora very well and has been a more consistent goal scorer than both Andy Johnson and Djibril Cisse so he could help push the club onto the next level.

Martin O’Neill is also keen on Defoe and Sunderland could do with a goal scorer as they haven’t really replaced Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan in recent years with Nicklas Bendtner coming in on loan last season. It is unclear whether he will come back either on loan or permanently again so they will have to look elsewhere. A major problem could be that Defoe hasn’t played for anyone in the north so he may be reluctant to move to the area.

Finally, Aston Villa could be looking at the striker and this would be an interesting move as Darren Bent is also at the club and when they were both at Tottenham together they didn’t really play that often and that could mean that they weren’t a good partnership. I can’t see them working well together but maybe I will be proved wrong. If he did sign then they would have a quick attack with Bent, Defoe and Agbonlahor so they would be very threatening on the counter attack and would cause a lot of problems for their opposition.

Will Matt Phillips sign for a Premier League club this summer?

Blackpool winger Matt Phillips could be set to leave the club in the next few weeks with a number of clubs looking to sign him.

Phillips scored 11 goals in 35 games for Blackpool last season

The 21 year old had a fantastic season last year both at Blackpool and during a loan spell with Sheffield United early in the season where he scored five goals in just six games. But, it was his performances in the Championship that are making him one of the hottest properties in the division. There is no doubt that manager Ian Holloway will want to keep him but he is a very good manager and if he thinks a player deserves a move then he will let them go at the right price. However, another year in the Championship wouldn’t do Phillips any harm and under the guidance of Holloway he could become an even better player. Six teams are heavily linked with him and they are Wigan Athletic, Reading, Sunderland, Everton, Aston Villa and Stoke City and he could do a very good job for all of this teams. But which team would he have the most success at?

I think Aston Villa could be a good move for him as they are largely underachieved last year and didn’t play to their full potential and with them likely to play 4-3-3 again next season he would easily fit into their team. A front three of Agbonlahor, Bent and Phillips would be frightening to any team as they have the pace to punish teams on the counter and would link up brilliantly. New manager Paul Lambert also likes to take young players from the Championship and give them a chance in the Premier League and most of his players at Norwich City succeeded and he has to be given a lot of praise for this.

If he is allowed to leave Blackpool then he will also have to take a look at Stoke City because they are now an experienced Premier League side and they will help him become a better player and maybe push onto the next level as he will learn a different way to play. Obviously, Stoke still have Jermaine Pennant but he didn’t seem too happy last year and could be moved on if they get in a replacement. Sometimes people are harsh on the way Stoke play but if you watch them properly they do try and get the ball wide and cross the ball which Phillips will enjoy.

Finally, out of the teams linked with him Everton are probably the best team and have the best manager in David Moyes so this will help his career and a lot of players have progressed from Everton and been sold on for a lot of money. Plus, they are always up there challenging for a place in Europe when it comes towards the end of the season so this will obviously interest Phillips. If they bring in Steven Pienaar it may be difficult for him to get in the side as Moyes likes to play Leon Osman on the wing a lot of the time and with Ross Barkley set to feature more this season he may not be guaranteed a start every week and this may put him off.

Who will Peter Lovenkrands sign for?

Peter Lovenkrands is looking for a new club after being released by Newcastle United and will be hoping to stay in the Premier League.

Lovenkrands scored 29 goals in 84 games for Newcastle

The Geordies loved Lovenkrands and he obviously enjoyed playing in front of them and leaves the club with a heavy heart as he has given them a lot over the years he has been there and nobody can ever question his loyalty. The Danish striker was very important to the team especially in the Championship where he scored 16 goals in all competitions and was a very effective partner for Andy Carroll. One of his goals that will probably be remembered most was the one against West Brom in a 2-2 draw as he had just returned from Denmark after hearing the about the death of his father. The celebration will live long in my memory and I’m sure most people in the stadium will not forget it as you could see how much it meant to him to score for his father. His chances in the Premier League were limited but he will always be considered a fans favourite in my opinion.

So where will he go next? Does he still have a future in the Premier League? Personally, I don’t think he is still good enough for the Premier League however with Chris Hughton just getting the job at Norwich City he may just get another chance. Hughton got the best out of him at Newcastle and they obviously had a very good relationship during their time on Tyneside. Lovenkrands would be a different option for them to Grant Holt and Steve Morison and has more experience than Simeon Jackson in the Premier League. Plus, Grant Holt doesn’t seem happy at the minute so he could be on his way this summer. I think he would be a decent addition to the squad but he doesn’t quite fit into their usual transfer targets however Paul Lambert is no longer the manager so they may go in a different direction.

Another option for him could be Southampton as they do not have much Premier League experience in their strike force. He could prove to be a good partner for Rickie Lambert who is a big striker and likes to hold up the ball for people to run off him. One thing Lovenkrands still has, is his movement and he will get himself into good positions and with Southampton having some very good playmakers in their squad like Adam Lallana, he could be just what they need. They do have Billy Sharp but I am unsure whether he will be able to score enough goals in the Premier League.

Finally, Aston Villa may also be interested in his services as they struggled to score goals last season and they didn’t have enough options after Darren Bent got injured with Gabriel Agbonlahor playing a lot out wide under Alex McLeish. The only thing that may make this move not work out is that new manager Paul Lambert would rather go for a younger player and they will be the favourites to sign Holt if he does get the chance to leave Norwich. However, he is a free transfer and this should work in his advantage, I really hope Lovenkrands gets a new club and I’m sure if he gets to play against Newcastle the crowd will give him a fantastic reception as they appreciate all that he has done for the club.

Gabriel Agbonlahor named new Aston Villa captain

Gabriel Agbonlahor has been named the new Aston Villa captain after the news that Stiliyan Petrov was diagnosed with acute leukaemia.

 

Gabriel Agbonlahor has scored over 50 goals for Aston Villa

Everyone will be hoping that he makes a full recovery and he can play football again whether it be next season or even the season after. It would be fantastic to see him leading out the team again at Villa Park but for now the club has to look at securing their place in the Premier League. They had to name a new captain and Agbonlahor was a very good candidate. Although they could have went for James Collins or Shay Given who have a little more experience, they decided that Gabby’s love for the club would be the better option.

So let’s have a look at Agbonlahor’s career and see if he has the potential to lead out the team and be a good captain. He made his Premier League debut at the age of 19 against Everton and scored in the game, unfortunately the team went on to lose 4-1 but he showed enough potential and ability to the Villa fans that he was a promising player and will be very good in the future. He did have two loan spells before this at Watford and Sheffield Wednesday where he didn’t make much of an impact.

In his first full season in the first team he played 42 games scoring 10 goals after new manager Martin O’Neill decided he would be in his first team plans. Starting O’Neill’s first game in charge away to Arsenal on the right wing where he played much of the season which just shows the versatility of the player and how he is willing to play in any position the manager tells him to. He is equally effective in both, with clever movement and frightening pace, he is always on the mind of opposition defenders.

In the following three seasons, he played over 40 games yet again scoring over 10 goals in each which is quite impressive as at times his goal scoring record has been overlooked by pundits and fans alike as well as England managers. Three years in a row he scored over 10 goals in the Premier League (11,11,13) so to me he has proven his worth to Villa and should have more England caps than he currently has. He only has three caps for his country.

Last season was one of his worst but that may have been down to the fact that played less games than usual, only contributing five goals. But the season wasn’t the greatest for the club with O’Neill resigning and them having a pretty bad start to the season especially away from home where they were beaten 6-0 by Newcastle. The squad seemed very unhappy under Gerard Houllier and Gary McAllister which may have been another reason why he personally underperformed.

This season, started very brightly for him putting in some fantastic performances and scoring and creating chances for his team mates. Now he has played over 250 times for the club and putting him for eighth in the all time Premier League appearance list for Aston Villa.

He may not have as much experience as some other players in the squad but he has definitely played a lot of games for a 25 year old and at the same club which means he knows it inside and out therefore he is a great choice for captain.

Will Aston Villa get relegated from the Premier League?

Aston Villa may be getting dragged into a relegation battle this season with some of their star players underperforming and now the news that Darren Bent will be out for three months has made the possibility of relegation a lot more likely.

They are not a one man team but who will score the amount of goals Bent does, Gabriel Agbonlahor for all his pace and directness does not quite have the ability to reach the same levels as Bent. However, I have been impressed with him this season but five goals isn’t exactly prolific. Saying that though he has hit double figures in three seasons so far in his career with his best being 13 goals, he will need to get somewhere near this target this season if Villa are going to stay up.

Emile Heskey has never been prolific in his career and does not seem to be favoured by Alex McLeish anyway so he may be overlooked. Whenever I have seen him play this season he has been on the left wing which he has done a few times over the years but you cannot get the best out of him from that position. Everyone always says that Heskey makes his strike partner look better and score more goals and maybe he will be able to help Agbonlahor grab the goals as well as him chipping in with a few himself.

With Robbie Keane’s loan spell ending, this injury could not have came at a worse time and they will no option but bring Nathan Delfouneso back to the club and push him straight into the first team. He is only a young player but he has certainly showed some promise when he has came off the bench in the last few years and maybe now is his time to step up and show everyone that he is a Premier League quality striker. If he can also grab a few goals between now and the end of the season he could be a hero to the Villa fans as they are in need of one at the moment.

The midfield will have to step it up also as they can get goals but have struggled to so far this season. Charles N’Zogbia can score goals from out wide and has done so on many occasions for former clubs Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United. He only has one goal so far for the club and this is quite remarkable as he hit 10 goals in all competitions last season in arguably a weaker side. Marc Albrighton on the other side should be adding more goals to his game as he is a very good player and likes to get himself into attacking positions but in his defence he hasn’t always been first choice. I believe though that this injury could be a blessing in disguise for Stephen Ireland as he really needs to get his career back on track, he has struggled for years and maybe now with the pressure on, he may get back to the form he showed at Manchester City when he was one of the best attacking midfielders in the Premier League and.

I do not believe Villa will go down but the Premier League does throw up a few surprises and with the fans still not taking to McLeish very well, it all adds up to a very difficult end to the season. Maybe it is down to the manager that they are struggling because at times he can be far too negative and doesn’t allow his players to express themselves and this could be part of the reason why there flair players from last year, like Ashley Young and Stewart Downing left. It could also be why players like N’Zogbia have underperformed.