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Villa's greatest area of need was readily apparent again in Texas. Although facing a lower level of competition helped mask some of Villa's weaknesses, the lack of specialization or a defined role for many of Villa's midfielders is worrisome.
Fabian Delph and Ashley Westwood are the pick of the bunch. The former is Villa's ball carrier and spark plug from midfield whose burst of pace and tricky dribbling have great value. Westwood is less beloved, but the Englishman keeps possession well and is a disciplined figure who sits just in front of the defence.
The places of the rest of the midfielders are less sure. Karim El Ahmadi is a jack-of-all-trades type that doesn't excel in any particular area and has a poor discipline record. Leandro Bacuna is a strong utility man that finishes well and is eager to get forward, but he is defensively suspect and is not a very good passer.
Gary Gardner is still attempting to fully break into the first-team picture and he has not seemed to do enough to improve Lambert's opinion of him through the pre-season. Finally, it is difficult to rely on Joe Cole to stay healthy or to retain the skill of his younger days in an advanced midfield role for Villa.
With a month left in the transfer window, Lambert would ideally sign two more midfielders, an attacking and holding player, to improve the situation. The Birmingham Mail's Mat Kendrick reports that there is still interest in signing Swansea's Ki Sung-Yueng, who would be a welcome addition to the claret and blue.