Aston Villa: 5 Things on Paul Lambert's Christmas Wish List
Aston Villa enter the Christmas period in good spirits thanks to successive victories away from home.
After a tough initial period, the young squad are coming together and performing for Paul Lambert, but the spirited young Scot will have a plan for improvement this January all the same.
Read on to find five things that are probably quite high on the gaffer's Christmas wishlist.
Continued Dominance from Christian Benteke and Andi Weimann
Christian Benteke and Andi Weimann are on fire.
Between them, they've bagged nine goals in Aston Villa's last seven games, with both getting into the rather welcome habit of scoring braces rather than singles.
The Belgian monster earns the rave reviews, but Weimann has been just as impressive alongside him in Paul Lambert's new striking partnership.
If Villa are to stay up they need goals, and continued dominance from this pair will assure that.
Some Fitness at Left-Back
Whereas right-back has been a consistent source of good displays from Matthew Lowton, left-back has been a completely different story.
Joe Bennett was on the bench during Aston Villa's win over Liverpool, which is encouraging, as the young left-sider has endured a frustrating start to life in claret and blue.
His introduction to the team was halted by a red card against Norwich, then on his return went off early with a gruesome gash in his leg thanks to a collision with the advertising boards.
Enda Stevens stepped in and promptly got injured, leaving Paul Lambert with right-sided Eric Lichaj deputising at left-wing-back, and 19-year-old Derrick Williams on standby.
If Lambert can get a break here it will help Villa move forward.
Some Form from the Highly Paid Players
Aston Villa are still haunted by the errors of their former managers, but unlike Alex McLeish and Martin O'Neill, Paul Lambert isn't afraid to drop players if they're playing poorly.
We've seen nothing more than brief cameos from Charles N'Zogbia recently, who cost Villa £9.5 million (via The Daily Telegraph), and Stephen Ireland has never met expectations after arriving on the end of the James Milner transfer.
Randy Lerner has been tightening the wage budget for a year now, and will probably expect Lambert to coax the best out of these players or get them off his bill.
Ireland is showing signs of improvement, and N'Zogbia's first month after returning from injury could determine his future.
£18 Million for Darren Bent
Paul Lambert has a clear preference in Christian Benteke and Andi Weimann to run his forward line, and England international Darren Bent has slipped out of favour.
After it became clear that Bent was not a genuine option for Lambert at Villa Park and the striker stated his unhappiness, many played the guessing game of how much the club would try to recoup him for.
Common consensus settled at around £15 million, but then ESPN reported this from a source inside Aston Villa.
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 6, 2012
It has to be said, after not playing for four months, Villa will be lucky to pocket £18 million for their asset.
The Long-Term Health of Stiliyan Petrov
Some things are more important than football, and Stiliyan Petrov's health comes under that category.
The Aston Villa captain has been stricken with illness since early 2012 after being diagnosed with acute leukaemia (via The Daily Mail).
Villa fans still applaud in the 19th minute in his honour, and every fan of the club will have Stan's health in their thoughts this Christmas.