I've lately started vaguely caring about hockey. My caring is only in its most nascent stages, but when you live in a town with the Washington Capitals, it's kind of hard to ignore that which goes on on the rink. For that reason, I was perusing SBN's Capitals blog today, and I noticed a feature that I loved, Capital Ups and Downs. They seem to do it weekly, and for nearly everyone on the team, and you get an up, down, neutral, or injured for every player on the squad.
With far fewer matches and opportunities for assessment, I can't hope to do every player on Aston Villa, but I the idea of an up and down column intrigued me. So I'll be doing a weekly Aston Villa Trending column, at least for a while. If you all like it, I'll keep it up. If not, I'll ditch it. You'll get a few ups and a few downs every week with a quick explanation why. My hope is that you'll jump in below in the comments and add to what I've written. On Wednesdays when there doesn't seem to be too much news, this will take Andy Marshall's spot. When there's a bunch, it'll come a bit later. Today is one of the former days. So here we go with our first Aston Villa Trending.
- Chris Herd: In his 21 minutes last week, Herd was an absolute dynamo. He was pushing forward from his role as a defensive midfielder and seemed to be creating opportunities on the left flank. But better still, he was tenacious in defense, coming to the aid of the actual defensive line at several key points. Had Phil Dowd kept his cards in his pocket, we might have seen a breakthrough game from Herd. Of course, he's trending upwards for winning his appeal of that card as well. But what I find really intriguing is how he played. There's a very strong chance that it was a fluke performance. But what if it wasn't? Could Villa have something close to a box-to-box mid?
- Shay Given: I think it might be fair to call Given the best purchase by any team this summer. He's had a shaky couple of matches, but that's only if you look at the scoreline. The defense has let him down a few too many times, and he keeps making spectacular saves. As good as he's looked thus far, he seems to get a bit better every match. He's a real treat to watch.
Barry Bannan: Pretty self-explanatory. Bannan has oodles of potential and could easily be the squad's best player. That's why his drunk-driving incident is so infuriating. He's hurt the team both on the field and in the minds of supporters. For this week, at least, Barry is a grade-A twunt.
Charles N'Zogbia: I was one of Blazing Roaches biggest advocates when he came to the team, but I can't quite remember why. In his time on the pitch, Zogs has added almost nothing. He has been neither creative nor useful, and he disappears for huge stretches of time. I think he's got it in him to be a contributing player, but as it stands, it wouldn't disappoint me too much to see him lose some playing time. Well, it would a little. There really aren't any great replacement options. Still, he'll get that playing time by default, not because he's earned it.
Gabby Agbonlahor: After a torrid 4-goal start to the season, Gabby has largely disappeared in the past two matches. Aside from the penalty he drew on Saturday, I can't really remember him doing much of anything. Putting him in the downward trend may be a bit harsh, as he hasn't been bad. Remember, however, that this is both subjective and relative!
- Darren Bent: Yes, he made a great penalty. But before that he shot the Emile Heskey Special deep into the stand with no one to beat but the keeper. It's odd that a player who could inspire so much confidence last season could be so devoid of it this year. Here's hoping he turns things around.
- The Defense: At the beginning of the season, it seemed that the Aston Villa back line of two years ago was back. Six goals in the last two games have put a bit of a damper on that spirit. They've got it in them to be great, but boy it would be nice to see some set-piece defense.
- Alex McLeish: You know it's bad for McLeish when people on our site start questioning him. For me, personally, it's not so much results as it is style. Just let the boys loose once in a while, Alex. It's fun to watch Gabby at full steam. And it certainly can't hurt when we're losing. If you want to bunker, that's fine. Just do it when we have a lead.
Alright, that's it for the first edition of Aston Villa Trending. Let me know if you've got any suggestions for future editions, and be sure to add your comments below!