Do you think there is any part of Paul Lambert that is regretting upping sticks and taking charge of Aston Villa?
Because if there was, at the moment you really couldn’t blame him. Lambert showed his typical ruthless careerism in demanding to leave Norwich City for Villa Park in June, but all of his brilliant work at Carrow Road will soon be forgotten if he is unable to get Villa firing.
On the evidence of the opening weeks of the season, it looks like being one long winter for the Midlands club. Two defeats from two is bad enough for Lambert, but the manner in which the losses away to West Ham United and at home to Everton came about is worrying in the extreme, leaving Villa fans wondering what is happening to the club.
A couple of injuries to key players have exposed the thinness of a Villa squad that is bereft of quality and for a team to look so short when missing only Gabriel Agbonlahor, Richard Dunne and Marc Albrighton from its likely starting eleven is a shocking indictment of where Aston Villa are right now.
To be fair to Lambert, this decline has been happening since Martin O’Neill walked out on the club on the eve of the 2010/11 season. Dismal tenures from first Gerard Houllier and then Alex McLeish, coupled with the decision of owner Randy Lerner to tighten the financial purse strings, have left the club on a downward spiral and with the team on a run of just one win in 18 league matches, there is not much sign of it stopping.
With a squad that features young players, some of whom won’t be good enough, and senior players who couldn’t look less bothered (I’m looking at you, Stephen Ireland and Charles N’Zogbia), Lambert needs all his motivational tools and nous to steer the Villans away from their predicament.
But I don’t think he is going to get much change from a trip to Newcastle on Sunday and neither do bwin, by the looks of the odds. The Toon are 3/5 favourites to pick up three points, while you can get 29/10 on the draw and 17/4 on an away win..
Newcastle were not at their best last weekend in a 2-0 defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, especially in the first half, but Alan Pardew has declared himself happy with Newcastle’s start to the season regardless of that blip and back on home soil, the ex-Southampton boss will be confident of returning to winning ways.
That’s because the Toon have spent most of 2012 in winning ways at the Sports Direct Arena. Eight wins and two draws from 11 home league matches in the calendar year is impressive by anybody’s standards and with an extra day to recover from Thursday’s Europa League match than they had at Chelsea last week, Newcastle look good things at 3/5.
The Magpies have won four of the last five home games against Villa and the 3/5 is good enough, but preference would be for the 7/5 that says the Magpies win and the match produces under 3.5 goals. All of those eight wins in 2012 featured fewer than four goals and Sunday can be the ninth.
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