It's turning to gold for Lambert: What went right for Villa against Swansea
21:30 GMT, 16 September 2012
Perfect days don’t come along all that often in football. But with pressure mounting on Paul Lambert to register his first Premier League victory as Aston Villa manager, his team managed to knock in-form Swansea well and truly out of their stride.
Villa Park rose as one at the final whistle to give their thanks to the Scot’s heavily-revamped and youthful side after an afternoon in which everything went right for the hosts. Here we analyse the key performers and the decisions which went Lambert’s way.
Tidy win: Paul Lambert earned his first league win at Aston Villa
Brad Guzan – Villa’s manager gambled two weeks ago when he dropped Shay Given for the American. But Guzan, who was persuaded to stay by Lambert this summer, rewarded his boss with a crucial last-minute save at St James’s Park. On Saturday, he pulled off a superb save from Ashley Williams’ early header then topped it with a breathtaking stop from Nathan Dyer.
Matthew Lowton – A few eyebrows were raised when Lambert paid Sheffield United, now of League One, 3m for the right-back. Villa already had Scotland international Alan Hutton on the staff. But the defender enjoyed his own perfect day.
Not only did he score a 25-yard opener, but 20 of his family were there to see it, including his mother, Lisa, whose birthday was this weekend. Happy Birthday mum!
Peach: Matthew Lowton smashed one in from way out to open the scoring
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Guzan 7, Lowton 9, Vlaar 8, Clark 8, Lichaj 7; Holman 8, (N’Zogbia 79, 6) El Ahmadi 7, Bannan 7, Ireland 7; (Westwood 71, 6) Weimann 6, (Benteke 71, 7) Bent 6.
Subs: Given, N’Zogbia, Agbonlahor, Bowery, Bennett.
Goals: Lowton 16, Benteke 88
Booked: Clark, Lowton, Lichaj
Swansea City (4-2-3-1): Vorm 5, Rangel 7, Tate 6, Williams 5, Davies 6; Britton 6, (Shechter 79, 6) De Guzman 6; Dyer 7, Michu 5, Routledge 6; (Hernandez 58, 6) Graham 5. (Moore 71, 5)
Subs not used: Tremmel, Ki, Agustien, Richards.
Referee: L Mason – 8
Man of the match: Matthew Lowton
Brett Holman – The Aussie’s industry was highlighted on Match of the Day 2 during Villa’s draw at Newcastle. And he produced more of the same, setting the tempo for the hosts with his ferocious work-rate. It unsettled the Swans who were unable to dominate possession as they normally do.
Ron Vlaar – Awarded the captaincy ahead of Darren Bent, the Dutchman is fast becoming a cult hero of the Holte End. He was Feyenoord’s skipper for two seasons and already looks a force to be reckoned with.
Christian Benteke – The 8m striker from Genk ‘is a right handful,’ according to his manager. Lambert wanted a ‘physical presence’ and the 21-year-old Belgian provides that all right. Scoring the second goal will only help boost his confidence.
‘If Christian tells me it's raining, I’m inclined to believe him,’ joked Villa’s boss at the final whistle.
Confidence boost: Christian Benteke struck the second
Of course, mention must be made of Lambert himself who has slashed a sluggish squad and appears to have transformed it thanks to an injection of youth and vitality.
It isn’t the finished article yet, but Villa’s fans who saw only their second win in 14 home league matches were certainly happy at the final whistle.
Finally, if it was perfect for Villa, it was less so for Swansea. Brendan Rodgers earned himself a hike up the managerial ladder last season following his success.
However, now teams are starting to develop game-plans to counter their passing style. Michael Laudrup is also trying to implement his own style. It could be a bumpy ride.