A few times over the course of the summer, writers on this site wrote some variation of "if this club can stay healthy, they actually look pretty good." Unfortunately, every if/then statement is predicated on the successful completion of the "if" portion of things, and it seems as if Aston Villa are determined to not be healthy. Fabian Delph injured his shoulder in a freak training accident that occurred after he had returned from international duty with England. Here's Brendan McLoughlin on the matter:
Delph injury just a freak incident. PL: "It is a nightmare for him. It was an awkward fall, no one was near him. "He fell on his shoulder."— Brendan McLoughlin (@bren_mcloughlin) October 16, 2014
Oh? So, he just fell over, then, huh? Shouldn't be too bad, right? Oh...
Great. Just flipping great. So we get Ron Vlaar and Christian Benteke back this weekend, but we're going to lose Philippe Senderos and now our best and most consistent player? Wonderful.
So what does this mean for Villa going forward? At least for the time being, we can be assured of continued starts from Tom Cleverley and Ashley Westwood, but it also probably means that Carlos Sanchez will be given more chances to start. If he can't handle himself, we could see an entire shift in the way Paul Lambert plays this squad. Perhaps more Leandro Bacuna or a shift to using Jack Grealish and Kieran Richardson as true wingers to compensate for the missing strength in midfield from Delph's absence.
Regardless of what happens, there's no way to view this as anything but a pretty bad blow for Villa. Delph isn't always the best player on the pitch in any given match, but he's certainly the team's most consistent performer overall. Luckily, the midfield is much stronger (and more deep) this year than it was last. This isn't good news, but it's not crippling like it would have been twelve months ago.