Oh dear, oh dear, what is this? With two weeks left, Aston Villa have completed their second signing of the January transfer window. And, unlike the signing of Grant Holt, this one leaves little room for complaint.
More on Bertrand
More on Bertrand
First, let's think back to Monday's match. One of the main complaints from those watching was the play of Antonio Luna, despite the fact that, over the course of the match, the Spaniard didn't do all that poorly. But perhaps that was just in comparison to the rest of the team. We know Luna has his weaknesses, including his unfortunate tendency to stand around and watch the ball. Tony Moon may be loveable, but watching players easily slip by him to score can and does incite rage.
Then there's Joe Bennett. Brought in from Middlesbrough last season, it seemed Bennett had some potential - when you looked past the injuries, that is. But he's yet to play in the Premier League this season, only making appearances in the League Cup.
With the left side of defense an obvious weakness in the Villa squad, it's hard to feel anything but excitement at the announcement that Ryan Bertrand is joining from Chelsea on loan until the end of the season. The 24-year-old came through the Gillingham youth system, spending a year at Chelsea's academy before joining their senior squad in 2006. But he was quickly shipped out on loan, spending time at Bournemouth, Oldham Athletic, Norwich City, Reading and Nottingham Forest before making his full debut with the Blues in April 2011.
Bertrand's made just 28 Premier League appearances with Chelsea, but don't let that get you down. After just a year in the squad, he was lifting European Cup in the win over Bayern Munich, a match in which he earned his first Champions League start. Recently, however, he's been sitting on the bench (or out of the squad altogether), with Jose Mourinho favoring Cesar Azpilicueta and Ashley Cole at left back. He also had to contend with injury niggles, but those have been resolved, and he's fit to start for the Villa.
From Mourinho's point of view, Bertrand is still young, and he hasn't proven himself ready to help a top Premier League side yet. So why shouldn't Villa take advantage? He's an upgrade on Luna and Bennett, no question. He's able to get forward, yet still solid defensively.
But let's not assume he's going to be slotting in at left wing, ok? Unless Lambert's looking for a very defensive option there (which, judging from recent matches, he just might be), he's not a good fit. Yes, Bertrand can play left wing, but he's better off at left back, where he'll get forward enough to help the attack, but won't leave the defense exposed as Luna often does.
As much as it'll be nice to have a quality defender who can get forward and help the attack, let's not overlook the benefits of this defensively. With Luna often being caught out, players slip behind, forcing the center backs to cover for his mistakes. That leaves more weak spots in front of goal, allowing quick attacks to expose the stretched defense and get in the goals. Bertrand's attention to defensive matters should help keep Villa from being forced to chase games...should. It's Villa, so you never know.
In fact, as far as we can tell, the only reason to complain about this move is the fact that it's a loan, with no option to buy. What say you, Villa fans?
- Holtecast Podcast: Grant Holt, January transfer, Liverpool, and more
- With Holt in, Villa may be sending a striker out on loan
- Aston Villa will be without two key players for Liverpool match
- Trying to find the good in Holt: a stats-based look at Villa's newest player
- VOTE: Who do you want to see Aston Villa bring in?