Player to watch next season … Delph at Aston Villa
Christian Benteke has rightly taken the plaudits at Aston Villa this season as his goals have almost single-handedly ensured that Paul Lambert’s men have avoided relegation.
Lambert’s decision to persist with his young and largely inexperienced squad should also be commended and the club should only improve for this decision in the next campaign.
Improvements should be made by virtually the whole squad as they become another year older, with a few international call ups not an unreasonable expectation.
Matt Lowton and Ashley Westwood are two such players with big futures, but Fabian Delph has the ability to upstage both if remaining injury free.
Delph arrived from Leeds with a lofty reputation in the summer of 2009, but was sidelined for eight months towards the end of his debut season by a cruciate ligament injury sustained in training.
Further injuries have come and gone since, but he has benefited from a run in Lambert’s side since the New Year and has come on leaps and bounds as a result.
His partnership in a midfield three with Westwood and Yacouba Sylla has been pivotal in the club’s improvement over the second half of the season, with Delph often positioned as the furthest forward of the trio.
Westwood’s game is largely based around retaining possession, but he has often been out-passed by Delph, especially in the attacking third.
Meanwhile, his defensive involvement should not be underestimated, as he loves a tackle, positions himself well to make interceptions and draws free kicks to ease pressure on his defenders.
The one area where Delph could do with improvement is in the number of goals he scores, but he certainly has the capability of turning into one of the Premier League’s top box-to-box midfielders and staying fit will be vital to this.
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