Paul Lambert has given us the injury report for this weekend's match against West Ham and it's a bit mixed, so let's do this good news/bad news style:
Gabby Agbonlahor, after getting injured in the Liverpool match and missing the tilts against West Bromwich Albion and Everton will be ready to play against West Ham. If you think back to the opening half of the trip to Anfield, you'll likely remember Gabby as the catalyst who spurred one of the best Aston Villa attacks we've seen all season. His assists to Andi Weimann and Christian Benteke -- from both wings -- were vital in staking Villa to a two-goal lead that they would hang onto to grab a point against Liverpool. Having him back in the lineup will undoubtedly be a boost for the club.
With only one exception (coming in the "Bad News" section), there are no other injuries that Aston Villa have to worry about, so Paul Lambert should be pretty free to choose the squad he wants.
But that one exception is a pretty big one: Ron Vlaar. The captain of the team came off in the final 10 minutes of last week's match at Everton with an injured hamstring, and he's still a doubt to start on Saturday. Villa's defense has unquestionably been better this season when Vlaar starts. In the five matches that Vlaar began on the bench, Villa have conceded 9 goals, or 1.8 goals per match. For the 19 that Vlaar did start, the numbers are 25 goals and a 1.32 goals per match rate. Half a goal per match is nothing to sneeze at.
What's it mean?
There may actually be some good news in all of this for Aston Villa though. The second half against Arsenal, and the entire matches against Liverpool and Baggies saw Aston Villa attacking in a way we haven't seen all season. The club were fun to watch, and they were successful. Last weekend at Everton saw Paul Lambert bunker down and play an intensely boring -- and inevitably untenable -- 90 minutes that led to a 2-1 loss. Without his best defender in the lineup, and with the addition of one of his fastest players, Lambert may be forced to return to the attacking style we saw such a tantalizing glimpse of.
Add to that the fact that Villa are playing at home, where Lambert needs to begin impressing fans, against a weak West Ham side, and I think you're going to see Villa come out blazing. It's never good to see Aston Villa missing Ron Vlaar, but his absence has the potential to give us a match that's again fun to watch. And that's what we all need: a way to wash the taste of the Everton match out of our mouths.
- Okore on the fast track to Villa return - but should he be?
- Villa had €10 million to spend in January: Why didn't we see it used?
- Aston Villa find newest way to make French surrender
- Forgotten Villa man could still make a claret and blue return
- VOTE: Is the Paul Lambert contract extension a good idea?