Somehow this slipped past me while I was busy yesterday, but apparently the injury gods have not seen fit to smile on Aston Villa quite yet. Ashley Westwood will be out until at least January with a twisted knee. That means missing at least four matches at a time when Villa can ill-afford another player off the pitch. With Ron Vlaar, Philippe Senderos, and Fabian Delph out as well Paul Lambert is now missing 36% of his first-choice starting XI to injury (45% if Tom Cleverley is hurt enough to miss the next match.
There's two ways of looking at this latest injury: it comes at a time when Villa are facing a relatively easy stretch of fixtures, so perhaps having a full-strength club isn't necessary. Or there's the other side: since Villa have struggled so much against the top clubs, it's precisely at this moment when they most would want to be healthy. I'm leaning towards the latter, but if you're feeling optimistic I won't begrudge you the former.
Let's assume that Cleverley is out this weekend against West Bromwich Albion as well. That means that Paul Lambert will likely have to field Kieran Richardson, Carlos Sanchez, and Charles N'Zogbia. If he sticks with his preferred set-up of three strikers (Gabby, Christian, Andi) then that means Jack Grealish is the first man off the bench. After Grealish is... who? Leandro Bacuna? Matthew Lowton or Chris Herd is a surprise midfield cameo? They probably can't turn to Joe Cole because he already played 30 minutes this month. The injury situation is dire enough that I actually saw an article about Yacouba Sylla and thought "Well, I wouldn't want it, but we could recall him."
Missed in a lot of this talk about Westwood is the tackle that injured him. After he had collected the ball just outside the Aston Villa box, Leicester City's Jamie Vardy came charging up from behind and dove into a scissor tackle that entirely missed the ball and instead took out Westwood's legs. And he got a yellow. If it wasn't clear at the time that the foul should have merited a red card, it sure as heck is now. Vardy played dirty for most of the time he was on the pitch, and Leicester City cemented themselves as a club that I actually want to see drop more than I do QPR.