|Captain Fantasic; Stan Petrov scoring in the 3-1 victory|
over Chelsea on New Year's Eve
Despite this result we then went on to lose 2-0 at home to Brendan Rogers' Swansea side.
This year has seen the loss of our captain to illness, the sacking of Alex McLeish and the employment of former Norwich City manager Paul Lambert, the summer signing of Christian Benteke and the mixed bag of results.
This year hasn't been one for the faint-hearted, that's for sure.
Goal of the Year:
|Andi Weimann celebrating his goal against|
Liverpool on Saturday. (Getty Images)
Game of the Year:
There was an option of about three games that contested for this title. Wolves away in January was a game that I won't forget for a long time coming. Not only was it because of the comeback we produced with the help of an Irishman, it was the support from the Villa fans that made it a memorable afternoon. The second game that springs to mind from this year is the Manchester City away game in the Capital One Cup. I didn't travel to the game, but I remember it well, not only because of the score. It was my school's open evening and I was helping out in the science department. My science teacher, who is a Blues fan let me point out, wasn't too keen on the idea when I asked if I could listen to the game on the radio, but he reluctantly decided that I could. So, there was me in my lab coat, cup of tea in one hand, biscuit in the other listening to the game; whilst in between showing the kids my 'magic trick.' Although the score was contender for game of the year, the story behind it pushed it towards that award. However, I went with the Norwich game from midweek. What a game that was.
For me, our away support beats our home support every time. I love away days and its because of the support that makes me love them so much. My trip to Old Trafford, despite the result was one of the best. We were right at the top and you could hardly see anything but the roof, yet we still managed to out sing the boring home support. The chants of "we support our local team" put the icing on the cake.
It's difficult to pick just one player.
Christian Benteke is fas tbecoming the most talked about striker this season. His power is immense.
Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger are rated as one of the best central defensive double acts in the Barclays Premier League but from early in the game on Saturday, it was apparent Benteke’s hulking presence and work-rate was unsettling. Of the pair, Skrtel had the most trouble. The Slovakian usually gives as good as he gets when it comes to a physical battle but, on this occasion, he had no answer. His day was summed up by Villa’s third goal, when he didn’t have the strength to halt Benteke’s charge to the area and was tied up in knots. His potency is a different level. Before heading to Anfield, Benteke had only scored four times in the league following his £7million switch from Genk but moved his tally on impressively with two differing strikes. After going close with a sixth-minute header, Benteke had the air of a striker who knew he would score. His potential is frightening. It was, without doubt, his best display on these shores and doing it at stadium as fabled as Anfield will have attracted plenty of attention. Listening to Lambert, though, any admirers considering scouting him would be wasting their time. "Christian can be anything he wants," said Lambert. "He might not hit his peak until he is about 28, you never know. But he has been incredible for us, absolutely fantastic. He is playing in a fantastic Belgian side which is bringing him on as well.
You can never stop people looking but if you want to buy these players, you’ll have to have a few quid. There is absolutely no chance we would be looking to sell. We are trying to build something here and progress."
Then there's Matthew Lowton, Ashley Westwood, Brett Holman.
But I've got it down to one man; Bradley Guzan. There's not much else you can say about this man. Coming in for the dropped Shay Given he has impressed week in, week out with his solid performances between the sticks.
I don't like to say it but Marc Albrighton has got to be the biggest flop of 2012 for Villa this year. He shone in his season under Gerard Houllier, but suffered major second season syndrome. He hasn't performed at his best this year, yet he has a lot of potential, which I'm hoping he can recapture during 2013.
I'd like to once again mentioned Christian Benteke's back heel at the weekend. I can't tell you how many times I've reminded that moment. But for me the "wow" of the year is every time we get up on the 19th minute for Stan Petrov. After being struck down by leukaemia we have applauded our captain on the 19th minute of each game since. Every time it takes my breath away and sends shivers down my spine. It's one special moment, emotional to the point were it leaves me with a tear in my eye.
As I said in my last post, it has to be Ashley Westwood. Coming from a League Two team into the Premier League and making the step over with such composure is something. A big hand has to go to Paul Lambert and his backroom staff for spotting this beauty.
It's out of two men, Alex McLeish and Paul Lambert and I know who I'd pick every day of the week. The man from Norwich is a guy that's taking Aston Villa in the right direction; forward. He has a long term plan that he's put in place. He's a tactical genius and I believe that he is the right man for the job and I hope he continues to prove the doubters wrong.
"It's a long project. It's never going to happen overnight. I thought today we were well worth something. They are a young side but they are growing every time they play." Paul Lambert