The Villa of gray hearts / Premier League / J22 / Aston Villa-Manchester United /

The 14th in the Premier League has just announced, in quick succession, the arrivals of Philippe Coutinho on loan and Lucas Digne. An ambitious transfer window, following the arrival of Steven Gerrard on the club’s bench, which undoubtedly makes Villans the team to watch in the second half of the Premier League season.

Everyone has their own opinion on the winter transfer window. Often cut, by the way. In recent years, many high-ranking voices in the world of football have spoken out on its outright abolition, or at least a profound reform. The objective: to prevent clubs, badly embarked on their season, from completely revolutionizing their workforce mid-term and from sucking the dice of the championship. “It’s a bit like changing the rules of the game during the game, and we don’t find that normal, not fair! » , pestered the UNFP in a press release in 2019. There is a good chance that Aston Villa supporters do not agree. Badly embarked on the Premier League after a lackluster first half of the season, the Villans have just announced, in quick succession, the arrivals of Philippe Coutinho, on loan from FC Barcelona who only wanted that to lighten his payroll, and Lucas Digne, in bickering with Rafael Benítez on the side of Everton and that the Claret and Blue nabbed for around thirty million euros. Two weight reinforcements for the band to Steven Gerrard, who arrived in mid-November on the bench of 14and of the Premier League, and which are enough to make Birminghamians one of the curiosities of this second half of the English championship.

Opportunities and frustrations

That’s good, the first full-scale test for this new-look Aston Villa is coming very quickly. This Saturday, for the second time in four days, the Villans face Manchester United – in the Premier League this time, after conceding a narrow defeat (1-0) against these same Red Devils in the Cup on Monday evening. For Villa, that game at United a few days ago ended like many others this season: with this frustrating feeling of having been poorly paid. “We created enough chances to score three goals, so we have to improve that, underlined Gerrard after the meeting. There is a difference between the chances we have and the number of goals we score, and we have to work on that. » Except in this last gesture which they lack (although Villa ranks 9and of the Premier League in the number of goals scored, with 25 pawns), the guys from the West Midlands seem to be on the right track. Since the arrival of Steven Gerrard in place of Dean Smith in November, the team has been playing attractive, fluid football. The electroshock of the coaching change passed (4 wins out of Gerrard’s first 6 games), the machine must now keep up the pace over time. Especially since, of the five defeats suffered by Gerrard, four have come against City, Liverpool, Chelsea and United. Not just anyone.

Coutinho, Digne and Saint-Stevie

In this respect, the additions of Lucas Digne and Philippe Coutinho, pending potentially other arrivals, may put the necessary oil in the wheels. The Brazilian is a unique profile who, given the right arrangements and with enough confidence, can carry a team on his shoulders, as he showed in Liverpool (where he accompanied Stevie G on 81 occasions) and in Milan. An environment that he will undoubtedly seek, on leaving a failed experience at Barça and returning to an English championship where he had left his mark. The Frenchman, meanwhile, is arguably one of the most renowned left-backs in the Premier League, with attacking input – including that skilful left foot on crosses and set pieces – which can prove a formidable weapon. Two profiles that will allow Villa to bring quality, binder in these offensive phases which are, for the moment, lacking. Two players, above all, who chose Villa for one reason, and one reason only: the presence of Steven Gerrard, his aura that is no longer to be proven and his football that has conquered Scotland, and is just waiting to happen. mature to do the same in England. Gerrard already had the support and devotion of his workforce, promising, he will now be able to have fun with guns of the caliber of Digne and Coutinho. This Saturday, which should see the first minutes of the two players in their new colors, we will probably not see this great potential at full speed. But we can watch carefully for the first signs of what could be the nice surprise of the start of 2022.

By Alexandre Aflalo

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