Under new manager Remi Garde, Aston Villa fans now seems confident that their team can actually do alright this season and avoid relegation: something that looked like a certainty under Tim Sherwood given his strange tactical decisions and the way the team was playing.
In stepped Garde, and although the team still has big problems, they now don’t look so bad. The new manager has instilled a defensive discipline and the team looked much more compact at the back in their 0-0 draw with Premier League top scorers Manchester City before the International break.
And with the January transfer window just around the corner, Villa do have the chance to change the squad and make it stronger for the rest of the season. They may be doing much better since the arrival of Garde, but they aren’t out of the woods yet.
Here are some transfers that Remi Garde could make in January to make sure his team staves off the drop and builds for his future in charge.
For all of Villa’s problems this season, it’s been the goalkeeper’s position that most worried Tim Sherwood, and most worries Villa fans.
Brad Guzan has been a great servant to Villa, but even last season there were signs that Guzan’s form was slipping. He made mistakes at the end of last season – not what you want your keeper to do when you’re fighting so hard to beat relegation. This season he has made even more mistakes, and time might be running out for him.
Loris Karius is a promising young goalkeeper who is excelling for Mainz, and with the current wealth of talent in German goalkeeping, with Manuel Neuer at Munich, Kevin Trapp at PSG, Bernd Leno at Leverkusen, Marc-Andre Ter-Stegen, Ron-Robert Zieler at Hannover and Roman Weidenfeller at Dortmund, Karius might want to prove himself in the Premier League sooner rather than later in order to force his way into the Germany side past these wonderful keepers.
If Villa really are serious about a goalkeeper in this January window, it may be difficult to get in a top quality goalkeeper who is the current number one at another club.
In the January window, no one wants to part with their best players, and losing your goalkeeper can really wreck your season.
Salvatore Sirigu, however, is sitting on the bench at PSG these days. Formerly their number one, Sirigu has been displaced by German keeper Kevin Trapp, and whilst Sirigu probably won’t usurp Gigi Buffon’s place as Italy goalkeeper for the upcoming Euros in any case, first his place on the plane to France at all might rest on his getting some first team action.
If Villa come calling, he might jump at the chance.
Villa sold their best striker last season, but they didn’t really replace him in the summer.
Rudy Gestede is perhaps the man who came closest to replacing Christian Benteke, but he’s not at the same standard.
Jordan Ayew has also arrived from Lorient, but Ayew doesn’t look like he’s totally comfortable playing up front on his own. He’s quick, but slight. And has an infuriating penchant for straying offside.
We know that Charlie Austin is available, we know that he’s a proven Premier League goalscorer not to mention England international, and with QPR struggling in the Championship – they sit 13th, eight points off the playoffs – Austin would be tempted by a move to a Premier League club. Especially with the Euros coming up.
Austin is probably most suited to playing with another attacker alongside him, so this might suit Ayew too, who would revel playing in behind a main striker with the qualities of Austin.
Perhaps one for the future more than one for now, but you never know.
Samuel Bastien is a young midfielder on loan to Serie B side Avellino from Belgian behemoths Anderlecht, but it is reported that both Villa and Liverpool are monitoring the 19 year-old’s progress.
Villa have a habit of nurturing young talent, and Bastien is certainly just that. If he does come in at Villa he’ll be a signing with promise, one who can show something in the future, but he’s likely to get his chance at some point.
Arnor Traustason is a creative midfield player who can play on the wing or in the centre of midfield, he plays for Swedish champions Norrkoping, but has been heavily linked with Aston Villa recently.
Villa have a lot of technical, creative players in the squad, and against most of the sides in the Premier League, this might allow them to build up from the back and dominate games.
Remi Garde’s system would allow the Icelandic international – who could well find himself on the plane to France as his country will be taking part in their first major tournament this summer – some space to play his natural game, which is a big plus for a player who would be making what is potentially a huge step up in class from Sweden to England. Some experience in England this season and helping Villa to a good season domestically could see him playing at the very highest level in International football this summer.