As with all teams, the beginning of the 2012-13 Barclays Premiership season brings hope and promise. The team who has recently been coined "Lambert's Lions" after their new managerial addition, will look to have a bounce back season. Aston Villa seems to have fortified a squad lacking depth and the only real enemy they currently face, aside from their league opponents, is the injury bug. Villa are no different than any other side, as they have added a few players, shipped some off, and are simply trying to get their stars healthy. The Villa Park faithful will be in full throat on August 25th when the Villans host Everton for their second match of the season and home opener. Regardless of the injury news, the optimism glass will be full when the season kicks off against West Ham United this Saturday.
Manager Paul Lambert is the headlining addition as he joins the club from Norwich City. He replaces former Villa and Birmingham City boss Alex McLeish. The injury bug has bitten star forward Darren Bent, new addition defender Chris Lowton acquired from Sheffield United, winger Marc Albrighton, striker Gabby Agbonlahor and defender Richard Dunne. If Villa can get their lineup healthy, they will definitely be looking to play a more attacking style than they have in the last few seasons. One thing that will remain consistent is Villa's never say die attitude. It is prevalent that no matter who their opponent is, whether it be Chelsea or Reading, Villa will fight to win. All of their preseason USA tour matches were impressive and they will look to build on these results.
Dutch centerback Ron Vlaar joins the squad from Eredivisie side Feyenoord and seems like he will slot in well with the current lineup. Throughout the preseason, the team has gelled and become more cohesive. Ciaran Clark, Stephen Ireland, and Barry Bannan have all been playing with more freedom. Lambert will try to instill the free flowing and freedom components into his offensive side. Everything isn't all sunshine and roses, though. Defender Stephen Warnock was a little sloppy and gave the ball away too much for my liking. Lambert and the Aston Villa brass needs to find some additions in a new left back, winger, and striker. All in all, if Villa can have a solid defense, find a consistent scoring punch and stay healthy, the squad should be entertaining and have a solid season.
I am predicting a tenth-place finish for Aston Villa.
I think the top four finishers and Champions League spots will go to 1) Manchester United, 2) Chelsea, 3) Manchester City, and 4) Arsenal.
For the relegation positions I am predicting 18) Queens Park Rangers, 19) Wigan, and 20) Reading to go down.
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