Ahead of Saturday's big derby clash at Villa Park, we spoke with Villa fan Rory from the blog 7500 To Holte. He gives us his views on the Villans' start to the season, Tim Sherwood, Joleon Lescott, and more. You can follow the blog on twitter
@7500toHolte or Rory himself @RorySkehan

It's not been the best of starts results-wise for Villa, how have performances been and how is the start being viewed by the Villa faithful?

It's been incredibly frustrating. There's been some good moments, winning at Bournemouth on the first day was a nice result and our first-half performance against Leicester was some of our best football of the season. But Villa seem incapable of going a whole 90 minutes without clumsy individual mistakes and questionable tactical decisions which cost the team points. We're holding ourselves back - we'd be much higher up the table if we hadn't thrown away points in our matches against Sunderland and Palace, and especially in last weekend's disastrous loss to
Leicester. I don't think anyone's panicking yet, but we very well could be if we don't turn it around quickly.

Which players have stood out so far and have any players been particularly disappointing?

A few of the new boys have looked really impressive so far. Idrissa 'Gana' Gueye, the new central midfielder has been lively and energetic in the middle of the park, and Adama Traore, purchased from the Barcelona B team, has looked threatening in his little time on the pitch. Both players have picked up injuries, and their status for Saturday is in question.

I could name quite a few disappointments, but I'll limit myself to the couple of players who were brought in to score goals. We weren't expecting a single player to replace the departed Benteke, but new striker Jordan Ayew has yet to make an influence on any match, and Rudy Gestede, apart from his goal at
Bournemouth, hasn't done much to inspire either. Hopefully, they simply have yet to adapt to the Premier League and will turn their form around soon.

Tim Sherwood seems to divide opinion amongst supporters around the country. Some see him as a breath of fresh air with his open and honest views whilst others are not so convinced by him. What's your view on him and what do the Villa fans in general think of him?

That's the question, isn't it? Sherwood kept us up and led us to Wembley, and seemed to do an acceptable job of recruiting new talent after we lost two crucial players. A month ago, I would've said that everything was fine. But in the past few games, some of his game management and tactical decisions have been, quite honestly, shocking. I could go on and on about the specifics, but he just seems lost when it comes to substitutions. Some blame must lie with the players, but there is no doubt in my mind that he's cost us points this season.

Is Sherwood the man to take Villa forward?

Again, it's tough to answer. He brings exciting, attacking football to the club, which we desperately needed after years of nearly unwatchable football under Paul Lambert. He saved us from relegation and put us in the FA Cup Final, both of which are great signs. But Sherwood's inexperience is beginning to tell, and if we keep dropping points like we have been, he could come under some serious pressure. Right now, I'd lean towards him turning it around, but I'm not as confident as I once was.

How did Villa fans view the arrival of Joleon Lescott from the Baggies?

I think it was a decent bit of business, good for both club and player. We were crowded at centre-back before the move, but lacked experience. Lescott's arrival allowed Nathan Baker to go out on loan, and he slotted in alongside Micah Richards against
Leicester. I think we all know what we're going to get with Lescott - slower and older, perhaps, but an experienced player, a calming influence for what has been a shaky defensive unit so far.

On a similar note, were you happy with the club's summer transfer dealings? Was there anything else you would have liked to see the club do?

I was pretty happy with it, yes. We needed an infusion of fresh faces, and players like
Gana, Jordan Amavi, and Micah Richards have all established themselves in the starting 11. A few have yet to come good, I mentioned Ayew and Gestede earlier, along with a few others who haven't gotten much of a chance yet. It's perhaps a bit too soon to judge the new group of players, but Sherwood did what he had to - taking the money from the Benteke/Delph deals and reinvesting it in the squad with quality, if not proven, players.

Prediction for Villa's season?

At the start of the year, a lot of Villa fans seemed to be in agreement - this could either be really, really good or disastrously bad. Either this team will click (like the first-half against
Leicester) and push up near the top half, or it will capitulate (like the second-half against Leicester) and we could be in a real fight to avoid relegation, once again.

Prediction for Albion's season?

I think under Tony Pulis, you know what you're going to get. I think they'll do enough to stay up and finish somewhere in the 12-16 range. Impressive defensively, less so attacking. Not exactly an exciting team, but safe enough.

Premier League champions?

At the beginning of the season I had Arsenal pegged as champions, but after seeing
Man City breeze through their early fixtures I think they'll be the ones to beat.


Sunderland, Watford, and Norwich.

What line-up and tactics can we expect to see from Villa on Saturday?

A lot will depend on fitness, but I'd expect something similar to how we started against
Leicester, in something of a 4-2-3-1. Tactically, you can expect at least one, maybe two, substitutions from Sherwood that make absolutely no sense.

Prediction and thoughts on the game?

Regardless of the fact that it's a derby, it's an important match for both sides. Villa have to put the debacle at Leicester behind them and start picking up points again, while Albion need to start finding ways to turn draws into victories. I'll go with a safe, but plausible 1-1 draw, with neither team being too happy with the result.


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