Aston Villa Team Guide: Departures could send Lambert down

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Team Name: Aston Villa

Manager: Paul Lambert

Last Season: 15th

Who they�ve signed so far: Philippe Senderos (Free Transfer), Joe Cole (Free Transfer), Kieran Richardson (Fulham, undisclosed)

Out of the exit door: Marc Albrighton, Nathan Delfouneso (both released), Jordan Bowery (Rotherham United, �250,000), Nicklas Helenius (Aalborg, season-long loan), Yacouba Sylla (Kayseri Erciyesspor, season-long loan), Jed Steer (Doncaster Rovers, three-month loan), Antonio Luna (Hellas Verona, season-long loan)

Star Man: Fabian Delph

The former Leeds youth was so integral to Lambert’s plans last term he missed just six matches, and Villa won just one of them.

His was a season that matured into a fine one, topped with some stunning goals, which can be seen below. One typified his style against Chelsea, while the other was just a thronker.

Under the Radar: Jores Okore

Okore_sticker

The Ivory Coast-born Dane made four league and cup appearances for the Villans last season before a knee ligament injury curtailed his involvement for the campaign.

Now making a steady return to action this pre-season, the burly 21-year-old can help solidify Villa’s back line this season.

Team Liability: Darren Bent

The man with five Premier League clubs on his CV is about as mercurial as a front man can be. Beyond 2010/11, when he moved to the midlands in January, Bent has been a dwindling figure for the Villans.

With Christian Benteke struggling for fitness, the 13-capped international has a chance to remind everyone of his talents. Will he able to though? We’re not sure even he knows.

Title Odds: 4,000/1

Best Bet: To be relegated – 3/1

Our Verdict:
Lambert’s tenure at Villa has been like a plane falling from the sky in slow motion. Signings this summer haven’t been the most inspirational and if Christian Benteke and Ron Vlaar leave, he will struggle to keep the side in the division.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.