Morning Villans, taking in an early shift to get on it at 4 before the big game tonight (then off tomorrow morning to recover!!)

I feel the team will be jiggled slightly tonight, but not changed too much as this is the must win game of the season so far

The will-he-wont-he-play-Bent saga will no doubt take over this thread once more but i'm more concerned about the middle and the defence personally

I have to assume Vlaar wont make it, so I would be partnering Clark and Baker (be interesting to see them together as they are 2 future greats IMO)  then there's the middle, will KEA make way for Ireland?  Could Holman force his way back in after an impressive cameo?  I dont think you can drop Bannan or Westwood personally so this is what I would go with:

                        Guzan

       Lowton  Clark  Baker  Stevens

               Westwood   Bannan

Holman            Ireland        Weimann

                        Benteke

i've dropped KEA as I dont think he's playing well enough at the moment, all he seems to do is lose the ball and get booked

I would start Gabby on the bench and bring him on for Holman after 60 mins if Holman isnt having an impact, that would give Gabby a rest and their defense half an hour of pace to deal with and that front 4 could (should) cause Reading all sorts of problems

Thoughts?

UTV

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Although I am a fan if Bent, I accept that he is seemingly not part of PL's thinking and as I fully support PL I have to accept his decision.

As to the rest I find his selections vary according to how he sees the opposition, something he clearly knows better than me.

I thought that KEA and Holman were doing ok but PL decided not to return KEA to the team and seems to have rested Holman after much praise for his industry.

I never really thought much of Bannan but he is playing well and Westwood has done well. Pity if Vlaar is out because he is a rock and if we build around anyone it has to be him.

We haven't had much luck lately with one thing or another but overall I am pleased with the effort and type of football he is trying to play. I fully expect a modest rise up the table in the coming weeks and no relegation to worry about.

Well done - now for some success.

team looks good, though we might see Bennet returning at Left Back, and i think that Gabby will keep his place. With Holman or Ireland starting in the whole. Team, i think will be

Guzan

Lichaj Lowton Clark Bennet

Westwood Bannan

Weimann Ireland Gabby

Benteke

but then again, Lambert does know more than me, and may well choose to rest Westwood and/or/both Bannan and play Delph and KEA 

Bent left at home again. 

Guzan

Lowton Baker Clark Stevens

Westwood Bannan

Weimann Holman Gabby

Benteke

hope Westwood and Bannan still have the legs!

Fasten your seat- belts, might be a bumpy ride tonight!

We should be at least 2 up. If only Weimann would play the pass earlier we would be winning. Positive start though, we've had plenty of chances. Need to be clinical. If we don't we this i'll be disappointed. Reading in truth haven't offered much apart from the tried and trusted whipping the ball in from crosses.

Also we should of had a penalty for the foul on Weimann but no one really appealed for it and the ref wasn't in a position to see it correctly

I was at the game tonight, and it wasn't a classic by any means- we'll have to play much much better if we're going to have a chance of coming out of the game on Saturday with another valuable win. However! we proved we can scrap it when necessary and we ground out a result tonight that could be invaluable come the end of the season. 

Although we weren't clinical I thought we were the only team that looked like winning- Reading came for a point and nearly got it but big thanks to Benteke for sending them packing! 

Other positives, Guzan solid as ever, made some brave claims when they hoisted the ball into the box come the last 10 mins. Lowton was exceptional at right back (my personal MOTM) and Ireland livened the place up when he came on in the second half. Westwood also very neat and tidy in possession and won some good headers.

Negatives, poor Andi had a shocker tonight, missed a sitter and gave the ball away cheaply. Bannan was guilty of this as well. Gabby never got involved, I'd love to see him be more direct but tonight he looked caught in 2 minds every time the ball went near him. 

Overall, probably a 6.5/7 out of 10, not pretty but job done. After the United game many of us said we'd play worse and win games, and tonight was just one of those! 

if we can play bad and get three points, thats fine by me!

Benteke - legend!

Dufrais -

Negatives, poor Andi had a shocker tonight, missed a sitter and gave the ball away cheaply. Bannan was guilty of this as well. Gabby never got involved, I'd love to see him be more direct but tonight he looked caught in 2 minds every time the ball went near him.

This is why I'm annoyed. The trio of Andi, Benteke and Gabby are being played every game, yet Bent isn't in sight. Those three can't play every game, they need resting. Benteke maybe not so much, but when Gabby goes off he doesn't improve until he has a spell on the bench, and Andi throws everything in but hasn't go the stamina to do it game after game.

I don't understand what Lambert has got against Bent, but in spite of his "there's no problem, Benty's fine" line, he obviously has. It may be just that he wants all players to train the same way, but that's far too inflexible; Bent is fit, very fit, and produces it on the pitch, where it counts. Had Bent played tonight, I'm certain we would have put the game to bed far earlier.

Getting the win is nice, but frankly it would have been a disaster if we hadn't. We should have won this match with reasonable comfort, but we didn't. The way we played a draw was on the cards, and a loss quite possible. Refusing to play Bent is a dangerous game which can cause real damage to the club.

I agree MPG. I really don't understand Lambert on this one at all. It's actually quite disgraceful that he'd rather have an unknown player in Bowery who wasn't even prolific in blooming League 2 over a proven Premier League + international goalscorer on the bench. The fact of the matter is it isn't a footballing decision. When Lambert was pressed on this issue by the journalist on bbc sport, his defence was that he had to pick a matchday squad that he thought could win the game. However, this is absolute rubbish. Everyone knows that Bent can score goals + goals win matches. I'm not getting at our own players, but Bowery should never have been signed at all + it is absolutely ridiculous that he is being chosen over Darren Bent in the squad. Lambert needs to get his head from out his backside + realise that he's wrong on this. I just can't respect someone who makes that kind of decision, I'm sorry. I read on the bbc sport website from someone who wrote in:  "Surely Darren Bent, with proven Premiership and international pedigree can get into a Villa side full of average players?" And although I hate to admit it, this guy is spot on. We do have a lot of average players, + Darren Bent is one player in the squad who isn't average. 

 

It's not just the bent issue that rattles me. When N'Zogbia is fit, he doesn't play him either. He moved on Jean Makoun when a player with that experience could have been highly beneficial this season. He signed Joe Bennett from Boro when there were options to sign Poulsen (the Danish left back) or Olsson from Blackburn, player who were better + had more experience. I won't deny Lambert got it right with the signing of Benteke + Vlaar, two players I think have made us stronger, yet he's destroyed all that with signing other weaker players. It almost seems that Lambert wants to alienate more experienced players with international experience in favour of younger players. This policy can work, it worked for Man U in the 90s + Arsenal have made the Champions League every year using young players, but these teams also had a great number of experienced players helping the youngsters + their youngsters were also a hell of a lot better than ours. 

 

It's time for Lambert to **** or get off the pot in my opinion. Either he starts using the experienced players we have, or he will suffer more backlash from fans + media alike. He needs to rotate the squad more + not pick poor players over good ones. We have enough good players to stay up, with the likes of Bent, N'Zogbia + Dunne (although I'm not a big fan) offering the experience we need that we aren't using at present. Lambert needs to listen + stop being so stubborn, because we're in a relegation scarp at the moment, + we're there because of his selection policy.

Yep, you're right. We're there because of his selection policy.

Rubbish.

It's really very, very simple.

It's a team game. You don't pick or play players just because they are good (see Torres). You play them because they fit into the system that you want your team to play. If you want 11 grafters out there, chasing everything then you go with players who will play that system.

If you have a very good player but doesn't fit into that system, then you don't play them.

For example, if Torres went to Stoke (bear with me on this one) then would Pulis play him purely because he was a great player?

Or would he bench him or not even squad him because he doesn't fit in to their style of play.

It's really very simple.

Lets re-invest if we do sell and get more players that fit into our managers system.

The problem with Torres is that he isn't as good as he was at Liverpool. Bent is as good as he ever has been.

What system are we talking about? Lambert has played several systems. If he plays more than one forward up front as he is at the moment that's a system Bent can fit into. Last night we created chances, of the sort Bent would have put away with no problem.

Lambert said last night that Benteke and Bent can play together. He then said he did that against Southampton and lost 4-1, and he has to play teams which will win matches. Is he saying playing Bent caused the defeat? We lost because when in the lead (after Bent scored) we became overconfident and against a committed fight back by Southampton our inexperienced defence collapsed.

Agreed, myself and everyone around me agreed that had half of our first-half chances fallen to Bent last night we'd have gone into half-time at least 2-0 up. Benteke's tame effort from about 12 yards and Weimann blazing over the bar from 5 yards were prime examples. 

I don't think that Lambert rates Bent particularly highly, but neither am I clamouring for Bent to be an immediate first team starter every week; I do think however he needs to be on the bench at the very least as a plan B. If it hadn't been for Benteke's late header last night we'd have been in a very precarious position indeed, Lambert would've looked a bit silly after we'd spurned so many great chances.

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