The Aston Villa players that got away

two in one - Clive Rose

For the most part, there are few Villa players at other struggling clubs that fans would want to re-join the side. But sometimes, just sometimes, those exes make an impression.

Aston Villa lost to West Ham United at Villa Park on Saturday. It was dreadful. It was embarrassing. It puts Villa back in the bottom half of the table, a mere four points above relegation.

And if that weren't enough, certain players that have Villa ties are busy helping other teams in the bottom ten - making it more difficult for the claret and blue to survive.

James Collins
The Welsh centerback was a Villan for three seasons, during which he proved himself a solid fit...under certain managers. But Collins was too old-school - and a bit volatile at that - and when Lambert took over, he signed on with the most old-school of old-schools, joining Sam Allardyce at West Ham. Well, this weekend he showed up against his old side, proving himself the best in a back four intent on not letting anything past. He was West Ham's man of the match and, while he might not be the best center back in the league, in a match in which Nathan Baker showed once again that he likely doesn't have the chops to be a top-flight starter, it was a bit hard to see Collins in the other claret and blue.

Stewart Downing
When Downing left for Liverpool in the summer of 2011, it was with bad grace, and he forever earned the ire of Villa fans. Being what amounted to a dismal failure with the Reds certainly helped. And usually, it's fun to continue to mock Downing, who seemed to have just one season in which he knew how to cross the ball.After receiving plenty of jibes for his inaccurate crossing in the first half of the West Ham match - and for failing to put the ball in the back of the net when he a perfect opportunity - of course Downing came up with a perfect cross that allowed Kevin Nolan to knock in West Ham's first goal.

Steve Sidwell
Ugh. I have no fond feelings for the ginger midfielder. The 31 year old couldn't manage to secure a first team spot at Villa in Martin O'Neill's last season, and after Gerard Houllier came in, was moved on in January. But he's been having some great games at Fulham this season, wearing the armband and making an appearance in every league match and scoring six goals. This week, he scored the opening goal against Manchester United at Old Trafford, getting past a sleeping Darren Fletcher to get on the end of a fantastic ball from Lewis Holtby.

And hey, it's a good thing Villa didn't go after Holtby, eh?

Darren Bent
Speaking of Fulham, guess who scored the equalizer in injury time against United? That's right, Darren Bent, Villa's most expensive purchase ever, who's now on loan at the league's bottom side. And still unable to get a start. In fact, no one seemed to know why on earth René Meulensteen brought on Bent at halftime, but somehow the forward managed a goal. Probably because Nemanja Vidić should not be playing Premier League football anymore.

Curtis Davies
The centerback was with Villa from 2007-2011, but got little playing time after the arrival of Collins and Richard Dunne. He first went to Birmingham City, the little traitor, and then moved on to Hull City. Under Steve Bruce the defender is quietly flourishing, and while Hull's defense isn't the best in the league, they've still conceded just thirty goals - and more impressively, just nine at home, where Villa have let in twenty-one.

Honorable mentions

James Milner
Gareth Barry
Yeah, they play for teams in the top six. But what wouldn't almost all of us give to have these midfielders back on our side...

Let's not kid ourselves. The predicament Villa find themselves in is their own fault, and the side shouldn't have to be worrying about what past players are doing to help other struggling sides. But geez, sometimes it's quite annoying to see these guys making a big difference. Particularly when Villa lose 2-0 at home to West Ham.

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