Gillespie Guest Post: The Aston Villa Perspective

This weeks Guest Post is from Villa fan Will Thornton, who isn’t feeling too confident about Villa’s chances but certainly isn’t ruling out the upset quite yet. Apparently we should see Benteke, the man who signed for Villa thinking they were in London, as the main danger-man….

Being a Villa fan in recent years has become more and more stressful as we have cemented ourselves as the ‘stepping stone’ team, buying players young and turning them into potential stars before then bending over as soon as the big clubs come knocking. Examples include Ashley Young going to Man Utd, Gareth Barry & James Milner going to Man City and also the laughable Stewart Downing going to the Scousers. Unfortunately the pinnacle moment for this downfall was 4 days before the 2010/2011 season began when Martin O’Neill quit and left us to feel the 2 year effects. O’Neill felt that the chairman wasn’t giving him enough funds despite having already spent about 100 million or so in 4 years.

Anyway before I start to ramble on about the bad things that have happened to Villa fans recently I should focus more on the task at hand….the Arsenal. Actually, the Arsenal fixture for me has been quite an enjoyable one in the past 5 years with Villa enjoying 2 fine victories against the Gunners at the Emirates, once in 2008 with a 2-0 win and second in 2011 with a 2-1 win thanks to a quick early double from new signing Darren Bent. Unfortunately our past 5 meetings at Villa Park have either ended in draws or losses and have continued a poor run without clocking a win against them at home since ’98. Clearly we are the underdogs but everyone loves a good underdog challenge.

This season we have a new manager in Paul Lambert and even though it has been a tough start for us I still feel more hopeful than I did last season when we had the ginger in charge. Alex McLeish had us playing very negative and defensive football, which no fan wants to see, and it became harder and harder to watch as he insisted in starting possibly the worst back four I’ve ever seen in Warnock, Hutton, Collins and Dunne. This season Lambert came straight in and removed all the idiots from the defence by loaning them out and selling them and started to rebuild from scratch. Now we have a new look defence with our new captain Ron Vlaar and Ciaran Clark, both looking very strong in the centre of defence.

Another move by Lambert was to target the lower leagues to find our new wingbacks, purchasing Matt Lowton from Sheffield United and Joe Bennett from Middlesbrough who both looked to have a lot of potential but are a long way from being stars. Shay Given has lost his place to the young American keeper Brad Guzan, who after 5 years at Villa has seemed to come into his own and has put in a run of good performances. Our midfield options are actually not too bad as we have players like Ireland, El Ahmadi, Bannan, Albrighton, Holman, Westwood and Delph ready to fit into various positions. As usual however, we are plagued with injuries with players like N’Zogbia, Herd, Bennett and Dunne still out, but that is nothing new. We welcome back Darren Bent from a month on the sidelines but whether he’ll start against Arsenal is another question because the attacking options of Agbonlahor, Weimann and Benteke seem to all be paying off at the moment with all 3 getting on the score sheet as of late.

I believe the best bit of business that Villa have done for a while is bringing in the 21 year old Christian Benteke from the Belgium side Genk. He came straight in and scored on his debut against Swansea and has not stopped since. He’s scored 5 for Villa in 9 appearances and also has managed to hold his own in the very talented Belgium side as the loan striker and has also managed to score 3 times in his last 3 for them. Not only that but he seems to get his head onto everything and is skilful and strong. So he, depending on how both teams line up on Saturday, could cause the Arsenal defence some serious trouble.

What will be the outcome of this classic English football fixture? For most it is an easy answer and they’re probably right, but with the way football is and the current trend of everyone beating everyone you never know.

You can never write the Villa off.

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