Agbonlahor: Villa are looking up the table now
Thursday 27 January 2011
Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor feels the club are now looking forward with confidence after a remarkable past week. Gérard Houllier's side were hovering just above the Premier League relegation zone when the £24m signing of Darren Bent gave the club a shot in the arm prior to last weekend's clash with Manchester City.
Bent then struck a debut goal to secure a hugely uplifting win against the Champions League contenders, and Villa continued the resurgence with a 2-1 victory at Wigan on Tuesday night.
Agbonlahor scored for the first time in the Premier League this season and captain Ashley Young also struck from the penalty spot. The result lifted Villa to 13th in the table and the mood in the camp is positive, further dispelling previous reports of dressing-room unrest.
Agbonlahor, who was deployed on the left by Houllier at the DW Stadium, said: "With the formation the manager wants to play, everyone is playing different positions. People may not be happy with where they are playing but the team comes first. With the way we are getting the results now nobody is moaning, everybody is playing where they are told.
"We are looking up the table now but other teams are only a win away from overtaking us. It is a weird table at the moment. We have just got to go into every game now with the same attitude and try to pick up points."
Agbonlahor also acknowledged the impact on the team that the arrival of Bent has had. Bent failed to make the most of two good chances at Wigan but his big-money signing appears to have infused players and fans with fresh belief.
Agbonlahor, 23, said: "You can say it has made a difference. Competition for places is a major key, so that is helping, and we were due that bit of luck – with the first goal dropping to me as it did, we were just due that. The goal hadn't been on my mind – it's been about trying to get the results and we got the result. But it is nice to get it out of the way."
Both sides were intent on attacking and had opportunities in the first half. Villa took control four minutes into the second half when Agbonlahor nodded in a rebound after Ali Al Habsi had saved from Carlos Cuellar.
Young doubled the lead on the hour after being fouled by Hendry Thomas but Wigan finished strongly and pulled one back through James McCarthy.
Wigan remain in the bottom three but manager Roberto Martinez took encouragement from the way his side finished, and in particular the performance of McCarthy on his return from injury. The Republic of Ireland international was making his first appearance since suffering an ankle injury in October. Martinez said: "It is quite clear why we missed him so much. Three months without James has been really damaging but it is great to see him back.
"He lasted for the majority of the game and that was one pleasing aspect. Franco di Santo also played 90 minutes as well. Franco is an outstanding talent. At his age he needs to play football and I have huge belief in him. Getting players back from injury is as good as signing new players and that fills me with a lot of positivity."
Argentinian forward Di Santo, 21, also only returned to the line-up this month after a spell on the sidelines.
Martinez is now considering whether to make any moves in the final few days of the transfer window, but he insists he will not panic buy. He said: "We will try to do as much business as we can but what is important is bringing the right people. We are aware of the challenge we have got. If we carry on performing in the manner we did here we will win more games than we lose."
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