Aston Villa have been in a slight limbo for the last few seasons as boss Paul Lambert has attempted to put his own stamp and instil his own football ideas into the Villans team.
When the former-Norwich boss arrived at the club there were big expectations of the Scot.
Lambert has experienced a difficult first few years in charge at Villa Park.
The Scot has stuck with his idea of introducing a host of young players into the Villa squad and stuck with it through thick and thin. Many Villa fans have questioned the Scot’s ability to move Villa forward at times.
He has had to take a lot of stick from Villa fans for some of his decisions, but in truth Lambert has done a decent job considering he has not had major funds available to him. It is also difficult to judge what constitutes success at Villa at the moment.
Lambert has shown incredible faith in some of his relatively young players this season. Those young players are starting to mature into decent top-flight players. Some of those young players are now starting to repay that faith.
Villa are now in midtable after consecutive home victories against Norwich and Chelsea last weekend. Chelsea may have finished last Saturday’s game with nine men, but Villa did really well to frustrate the Premier League leaders.
Those consecutive wins now have Villa looking upwards, rather than towards the Premier League relegation zone. Villa in tenth place are nine points behind ninth place Newcastle, so the Villans are unlikely to move much higher in the table, but the side from the Midlands will still be looking to finish the season in good form.
Villa could secure a third consecutive home win with a victory over Stoke on Sunday, which would surely end any relegation worries.
One of the key factors in Villa’s victory over Chelsea last weekend was the central midfield partnership of Fabien Delph and Ashley Westwood. Delph is still only 24 and Westwood just a year younger than his central midfield partner.
Both players were highly-rated as youngsters, but the pair have taken awhile to fulfil their potential. Delph was regarded as one of the best young players to have come out of Leeds academy, which at the time was thought of as one of the best in the country.
Delph joined Villa five years ago and big things were expected of him. He has shown flashes of his ability in those years at Villa Park. However, Delph is currently in fine form for the Villans. The midfielder’s deft finish against Chelsea in Villa’s last outing showed he does possess football intelligence.
Delph’s recent form has led to calls for the midfielder to be called-up to the England squad. The midfielder’s ability to get into the box and be a threat to the opposition has made him an outsider for the World Cup squad.
The World Cup in Brazil may come too soon for the midfielder who has had his career hampered by injuries at times.
The 24-year-old is the more attacking of the midfield duo, but is only allowed to go forward because of Westwood’s discipline to sit and do the dirty work in the centre of that Villa midfield. Former-Crewe star Westwood has never hidden, despite the fact that he has come in for some heavy criticism during his career at Villa Park.
Westwood is starting to look a more accomplished Premier League midfielder this season and is a superb foil for Delph. His job may go unnoticed, but he is playing a vital role for his team.
No doubt Villa’s last two displays have been much improved, but Villa really needs to start putting in consistent performances if they are to move forward under Lambert. Villa have shown some encouraging signs in those two wins that the team do have potential.
Maybe this summer Paul Lambert will be given some transfer funds to improve his squad and start looking at challenging higher up the table, rather than looking over their shoulders at the teams in the relegation zone.
Can Paul Lambert bring success to Aston Villa?