Aston Villa: Loss of Veteran Leadership on Pitch Has Been Cause of Bad Form

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2012

WIGAN, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 25:  Darren Bent of Aston Villa reacts after missing a good chance during the Barclays Premier League match between Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa at DW Stadium on February 25, 2012 in Wigan, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

If you have not noticed by now, Aston Villa are on the verge of falling into the bottom three of the Premier League.

While blame does have to be placed on the players on the pitch currently as well as manager Alex McLeish for not getting the best out of his players, there are two missing pieces on the Villa roster that are not out on the pitch providing veteran leadership that this club desperately need.

The two veterans that are missing are Darren Bent and club captain Stiliyan Petrov.

Bent suffered an ankle injury at the end of February against Wigan and was put out of commission until the end of the season.

Although the England international may still have a chance at playing for England at Euro 2012, his impact at Villa Park has been missed.

Some fans and pundits would have thought that this would be the perfect time for Gabriel Agbonlahor to finally step up to the plate and score goals for the Villains but that has not been the case.

Other young players like Marc Albrighton and Charles N'Zogbia showed promise in attack earlier on in their careers but they have not been productive at all when needed since Bent went out.

Petrov was diagnosed with leukemia in early April and the captain's influence has been missed in midfield just as much as Bent has been missed up front.

Since Petrov was ruled out of action for the foreseeable future, Villa have failed to win a match in six games.

However, Villa have been able to earn four draws in those six games but it has not been enough as Villa's relegation rivals have caught up to them.

The midfield has seen a core of players trying to fill Petrov's void, but youngsters like Ciaran Clark, Chris Herd and Barry Bannan along with veteran Stephen Ireland have all been unable to do what the Bulgarian has done all season and during his career, be a stable force in midfield.

Villa do have Premier League veterans like keeper Shay Given and defender Richard Dunne, but they are unable to to provide leadership to the young players playing up front and in midfield.

Heading into the final two games of the season, Villa are three points ahead of the bottom three and they need a player to make an impact on the pitch and that impact needs to come from somewhere.

With both Bent and Petrov gone, someone needs to step up on the pitch.

Whether it be a young player or a wily veteran up front, McLeish and his struggling Villa club need leadership up front and more importantly a win to stay away from the madness of the relegation race on Survival Sunday.