Pearson Mindful of Villa’s “Threats” as Possession Football Pleases Lambert

Leicester City v Aston Villa 2014/15

Despite a pleasing performance when we last played Leicester it was worryingly our last league win. We’ve gone five games without a victory since that match and face a Leicester side who are beginning to show signs of revival. Leicester have found their scoring boots recently but remain at the bottom of the table and face a resilient Villa side…

Pearson on confidence

“They have done well to recover from a very difficult period. They started the season pretty well, like ourselves, and then experienced a rough patch.

“The game at their place a few weeks ago was a tight game. It’s a game that we felt we should have got something out of but unfortunately made mistakes which, on the day, cost us and it’s another very big game for us.

“As most Premier League sides show week in week out they have some very good players and we’ve got to make sure we’re able to deal with their threats but build on what we’ve produced of late.”

Lambert on Nigel Pearson

“I have a lot of time for Nigel. He’s a really good guy. I think the criticism he took was absolute nonsense. He got them into the Barclays Premier League and deserves a bit more credit. The abuse was wrong.

“I think he’s been great for Leicester City. That’s my own opinion. He’s come through that spell. I don’t think he deserved the stuff that was getting thrown at him.”

“It’s a tough game against them. It will be a difficult game.”

Lambert on Villa’s possession football

“The last few games we’ve had so much of the ball and I am more at ease with looking at it.

“But they look really good with the way they’re playing and knocking it around and being patient with the ball.

“I am at ease with watching them playing.”

Memory Match

24th October 2006 Leicester City 2 Aston Villa 3

A 119th minute goal from Agbonlahor sealed progression to the next round for Villa in this League Cup clash.

Leicester– Last five matches at home: D 1, L 4

Villa – Last five matches away: W 1, D 2, L 2

Villa have only lost once during the last five away visits to Leicester (in all competitions)

One to Watch

Leonardo Ulloa – The Argentine striker was highlighted in our last Leicester match preview and scored against us early on at Villa Park. Has bagged 7 goals this season – not bad going when you consider he’s playing for the team 20th in the table.

Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet

Villa’s defensive capabilities have often been criticised under Paul Lambert but we’ve not been conceding many goals lately, at least. For all our defensive grit, however, we’ve been woeful in front of goal. Even Blackpool, a team languishing at the bottom of the Championship, looked like they could have nicked a goal in the Cup clash last weekend – the Benteke goal was one of few proper chances.

The relief of progressing to the Fourth Round should not detract from the poor quality of recent claret and blue performances. In the league, Villa have failed to score in four of their last five matches – scoring just once in the other fixture.

The fact that Villa have defended resolutely has saved us from embarrassment a few times this season. We’ve only scored more than once in two of our last 20 league matches. Benteke, who in fairness has had little assistance from the rest of the squad, has only scored twice in his last 12 league appearances. If you think those stats are bad, we’ve only scored four times away from home.

What We Pray the Football Gods Will Provide

Although the Blackpool game made for a dull spectacle there was at least a goal and its possible that this could give Villa a bit of confidence. Yes, it was the Championship’s bottom side, but the team kept going and there was some proof that Villa can break down defensive teams.

Ashley Westwood, who returned to the side last weekend is always capable of picking a pass that can open up the opposition. Let’s hope we see brighter attacking play to go along with the improved possession stats, which will mean little unless we take all three points.

It looks like the Okore and Clark partnership is set to continue as well. Together they were responsible for some impressive performances over the last few games, so hopefully this will carry on.

Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag

After a few good results, including coming back from 2-0 down at Anfield, Leicester will feel that they can get out of the relegation zone. Boosted by the signing of Kramaric, who Chelsea were pursuing, they will be feeling the confidence that Nigel Pearson alluded to.

The £9 million Croatian striker will not face Villa on Saturday though and joins the list of Foxes absentees including Cambiasso, Schlupp, Mahrez and Schmeichel. Newly-signed Schwarzer is an experienced goalkeeper replacement, but with lack of game time recently as Chelsea’s third choice he could be rusty. If you cast your mind back to the recent game between the two teams Schmeichel certainly helped keep the score down. So, the Dane missing is a big plus for Villa.

For Villa, Agbonlahor returns, and he was picked as man of the match against Leicester the last time we played them.

History is kind to Lambert’s side –  we’ve only lost one of our last eight league games against the Foxes. With this in mind, it should be a performance that drags Villa out of mediocrity and gives us some confidence of our own ahead of even tougher clashes.


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