Aston Villa must not think twice and offer James Chester a new contract
Days after Aston Villa secured star midfielder Jack Grealish’s long-term future, the Villans have reportedly opened talks over a new contract with club captain and defensive mainstay James Chester (h/t The Telegraph). The 29-year-old centre-back has a little over eighteen months left on his existing deal and the club are trying to get him to sign an extension at the earliest possible (h/t The Telegraph).
It has been a difficult start to the season for Steve Bruce’s side so far. The Championship outfit find themselves 13th on the table, with just three victories from nine games. Things haven’t been going their way on the field, with the defence found lacking on a number of occasions. But Chester has been rare a bright spot for the Villans.
The defender, a graduate of the Manchester United academy, joined Villa in 2016 from West Bromwich Albion and soon became an integral part of the team. In the two years that he has been with the club, Chester has racked up 105 appearances, scoring 7 goals and setting up one more in the process.
Last season, the 29-year-old formed a formidable partnership alongside John Terry as Bruce’s team pressed for promotion back to the Premier League. He made 50 appearances across all competitions for the Clarets and Blues, but couldn’t help his club earn a promotion as Villa stumbled at the final hurdle in the playoff finals.
With Terry’s departure at the end of the season, Chester was entrusted with the captain’s armband and he has handled the responsibility exceptionally well. The Wales international hasn’t missed a single minute of Championship football this season and has chipped in with a goal as well.
In a defence that has been found wanting in the 2018/19 term, Chester offers Bruce’s team a stable and authoritative presence at the back. In fact, he brings about a solidity that has been lacking since Terry’s exit and Tommy Elphick’s surprise loan move to Hull City.
The Welshman is a good passer of the ball and adds value to the team with his distribution from the back. Meanwhile, his presence in the penalty box on either side is an advantage during set-piece situations.
Chester had attracted interest from Villa’s Championship rivals Stoke City in the summer (h/t BBC) but more clubs are likely to come calling once he enters the final year of his deal at the end of the season. Given how valuable he is to the team, Villa would be foolish to put themselves in such a position where they could lose him on a cut-price deal.
Having recently tied down Grealish on a long-term deal, pulling off a similar coup with Chester will also come out as a huge statement of intent from Villa. And that is why they must do everything in their powers to get Chester to pen a new contract at the earliest.
Aston Villa must leave no stone unturned in signing this Premier League sensation on loan
Aston Villa must surely sign Callum Hudson-Odoi on loan
According to a report from Birmingham Live, Championship outfit Aston Villa are exploring the possibility of signing promising Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi on loan in the January transfer window.
The Villans, who recently appointed Dean Smith as their new manager with Chelsea legend John Terry as his assistant, are reportedly planning for the winter window to recover from their tepid start to the season. And they see the gifted 17-year old as a serious loan target. (h/t Birmingham Live)
Hudson-Odoi is regarded as one of the finest talents to come through the Chelsea youth setup in recent years and is held in extremely high regards in and around Stamford Bridge. The teenage sensation has been with the West Londoners since 2007 and broke into the U18 setup back in 2016, doing so at the age of 15.
He went on to net eight times in 25 appearances in his debut campaign, assisting the U18’s to their eighth FA Youth Cup triumph. Following his exploits, the youngster was fast-tracked to the U23s at the tender age of 16. Having continued his impressive run for the U23s, Hudson-Odoi soon broke into the Blues’ senior team and made his first-team debut earlier in January in a 3-0 win over Newcastle United in an FA Cup game.
The 17-year-old was one of the biggest positives of the 2018/19 pre-season campaign for the Blues under new manager Maurizio Sarri.
Hudson-Odoi started the FA Community Shield match against Manchester City at the beginning of the term but that was the last time he took the field for the senior team this season. Instead, he has played four times for the U23s in the Premier League 2, where he has scored and assisted one goal apiece.
Aston Villa are currently placed 15th in the Championship table, having collected just 15 points from 12 games so far (W3, D6, L3). Goals haven’t been much of a concern for the Midlands outfit – they have scored 20 times in the second division, which is the joint fourth-highest tally along with Brentford.
The strikers – Jonathan Kodjia and Tammy Abraham – have scored four and three goals respectively in the Championship and seem to be pulling their weight. However, the lack of similar contribution from the wide areas is problematic for the Villans.
On-loan Everton wide man Yannick Bolasie has impressed with two goals in six games but Anwar El Ghazi has managed just one goal, while Albert Adomah and Jack Grealish are yet to open their goalscoring accounts for the season.
And this is where signing Hudson-Odoi could help the Midlands outfit. The 17-year-old might not have top-level experience but he is a raw talent who could come in and make an instant impact. Able to play anywhere in attack, the teenage sensation has the raw pace and the trickery to pose a serious threat to any opposition. Meanwhile, he showed in Chelsea’s pre-season campaign that he possesses the ability to create chances and score in numbers.
Signing him in the winter window would allow the new manager to ease the burden on Bolasie on the wings, as well as add more firepower and cutting edge to his options in the final third of the pitch. Should there be an opportunity to sign him on loan till the end of the season, Villa must definitely go for it.
Aston Villa could resurrect their season by signing this two-time Premier League winner in January
Why Aston Villa must sign Gary Cahill to bolster their defence
According to reports by Evening Standard, two-time Premier League winner Gary Cahill has revealed that he is considering leaving Chelsea in the wake of acceptance that he is no longer first-choice at the club under new manager Maurizio Sarri.
The 32-year-old became unsettled under Antonio Conte last year as well. However, not getting into the regular XI under Sarri has made it clear that he is not an automatic choice for the Italian. As quoted by the report, Cahill stated that it is tough to make decisions to leave a club but one must make these choices to keep their career moving forward.
One Championship club that has made an under-par start to the season is Aston Villa. As a result, they sacked Steve Bruce bearing in mind that the manager wasn’t able to get the best out of his players.
Villa are terribly short on quality when it comes to the centre-back position. They loaned Tommy Elphick out to Hull City in the summer, leaving them with three possible centre-back options, out of which one is a midfielder by trade.
Only Axel Tuanzebe and James Chester are viable options in central defence for the team, with Aussie midfielder Mile Jedinak doing well to adapt to his new role. An unsettled defence can never be good for a team that should be looking to get promoted to the Premier League.
The Birmingham club have already conceded 18 goals in 11 league appearances thus far, which is just not good enough.
Hence, getting a player like Gary Cahill, who is a Premier League winner and possesses a ton of experience, would be a great deal. Since the player himself wants out from Chelsea in a bid to get regular playing time, Villa must leave no stone unturned in his pursuit. Villa’s shortage of quality in central defence would help 32-year-old play a significant role.
The Championship club had previous Chelsea captain John Terry playing for them last season. His presence certainly helped a lot as they just fell short of promotion, losing in the play-off final. Therefore, getting another experienced player from Stamford Bridge might help them resurrect their stuttering season and bring stability to the defence.
Thus, Villa must go all out to sign Cahill from Chelsea this winter and save their drowning season.
One win in nine games – Aston Villa have taken a step in the right direction by sacking Steve Bruce
Why Aston Villa have done the right thing by sacking Steve Bruce
As per reports from BBC, Aston Villa have sacked Steve Bruce after just one win in nine Championship games. Despite leading the club into the playoff final last season, the Villans have struggled for form this term and the 3-3 draw with Preston North End was clearly the final straw.
Aston Villa appointed Bruce as their manager back in October 2016, following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo. Having led the club to a thirteenth place finish in his first season in charge, the former Sunderland and Hull City manager almost led the Midlands outfit to promotion last season.
The Villans finished fourth in the 2017/18 term, accumulating 83 points while scoring the third-highest number of goals in the competition (72). They maintained the third-best defensive record as well, conceding 42 goals. However, they faltered at the final hurdle as they were defeated by Fulham.
Given the circumstances the club found themselves in during the summer transfer window, Bruce did manage to do pretty well in general. However, the decisions to loan out centre-back Tommy Elphick and goalkeeper Jed Steer have proven costly for Villa. Meanwhile, signing Orjan Nyland hasn’t worked out all too well.
Results didn’t go Bruce’s way either, as Villa are currently 13th in the Championship standings. In what has been a dismal start to the season, the 57-year-old faced an immense backlash from the supporters.
The abject display in the 4-1 defeat to Sheffield United at the beginning of the month was one of the biggest lows for the club under Bruce’s reign. The defence was all over the place at Bramall Lane while the team struggled to muster anything meaningful in the attack.
There is no questioning the past achievements of the 57-year old; after all, he has achieved promotion twice each with Birmingham City and Hull City in the past.
However, it does seem like he took Villa as far as he could. While last season’s promotion failure could be accounted to the loss in the playoff finals, one also cannot ignore the fact that Villa failed to capitalize on the chances that came their way to clinch the second automatic promotion spot.
Villa went into the season with a lopsided squad when it comes to the defensive side of things. The Midlands outfit just have one recognized centre-back in captain James Chester and have been forced to use defensive midfielder Mile Jedinak in the heart of the defence.
They are loaded with options in the right-back slot with Axel Tuanzebe, James Bree, Ahmed Elmohamady and Alan Hutton, whereas Neil Taylor is the only natural left-back in the squad. This imbalance has hurt them on a number of occasions this term.
Moreover, there is a clear lack of identity and direction at the club. Building defensively stable teams that rely on a moment of brilliance in the final third to nick points has been the basis of Bruce’s success in the past. However, Villa have been in shambles defensively this season, while their attacking play has also lacked the necessary incision.
With all that in mind, sacking Bruce does seem like a major step in the right direction for Aston Villa. However, to achieve success, they need to sort out a couple of issues as well.
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