Continuing the club’s preseason string of friendlies against England’s lower-league sides, Aston Villa’s most recent outing saw them shrug off the challenge of a Walsall side not faring too well in their own preparations.
The Birmingham outfit managed to overcome their West Midlands opponents with ease and head for their match against Shamrock Rovers later this week in a buoyant mood.
With the Premier League season just over two weeks away, the lessons that Villa choose to learn now are arguably the most valuable of their preseason process, including those which one might learn in the midst of an onslaught against League One opposition.
Attack is the Best Form of Defence
The 5-0 win over Walsall was the second consecutive match in which Aston Villa have managed to score five goals.
This would equal a 10-1 aggregate score between the club’s most recent result and their win over Crewe Alexandra earlier in the week which, while admittedly against minnow opposition, can only put the squad in a good mood.
After scoring just three goals in their first three preseason matches, Villa would appear to have shaken things up in all the right places as far as the offensive side of things is concerned.
What’s more, Paul Lambert can be overjoyed that the result produced five different scorers.
Fabian Delph opened his account for the night with a long range effort before Gabriel Agbonlahor, Christian Benteke, Jack Grealish and Gary Gardner joined him on the scoresheet.
Given the way the club has learned from their earlier failings, Villa look to be one of the sides taking preseason for exactly what it should be—an exercise in training to specification and finding your side’s ideal groove.
Benteke Decision Looking Correct
As Aston Villa’s official website will testify, last week saw Christian Benteke put an end to any speculation surrounding his future by agreeing a contract extension with the club which would see him stay at Villa Park until 2017.
Given the 19 Premier League goals the Belgian scored last season, such an agreement can only be considered as a positive on face value.
However, the doubt can always remain around about whether a player is nothing more than a flash-in-the-pan sensation, setting the world alight before simmering to nothing all too quickly.
That being said, Benteke's already partially proven that his talents are in fact enough to ensure that isn’t true in his case.
The 22-year-old has now scored four goals in his last two games for Villa, with his improved form unsurprisingly falling after the player extended his stay in Birmingham.
Based on that form, the decision not to cash in on Benteke and offer the player a longer deal would look the correct one as long as he continues to show bright form in front of goal.
Lambert Youth Investment Looking Smart
Since arriving at Villa Park in 2012, Paul Lambert has stuck with a policy regarding the involvement of young, up-and-coming players, refusing to shy away even when things seemed toughest last season.
In the end, his side avoided the drop and those same morals look to be doing the Villans’ boss some good in preparation for the 2013-14 campaign.
So far this summer, the Villa boss has signed six players: Jores Okore, Nicklas Helenius, Antonio Luna, Leandro Bacuna, Aleksandar Tonev and Jed Steer, boasting an average age of just over 21 between them.
Although not all were involved against Walsall, the players that were had an impressive outing and served their duties well, showing an encouraging sign of adaptation in their new surroundings.
What’s quite remarkable for Lambert’s side, though, is that even though one could consider it close enough to a full, competitive Villa starting XI, only one of the five scorers was over the age of 23 (Gabriel Agbonlahor).
While having five different scorers is impressive, to say that a 26-year-old is the veteran of that bunch is another reason to be happy altogether.