Is this the face of Villa's future? (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
To conclude our Aston Villa squad preview, I have been entrusted to take a sideways glance at the assembled mass at the top of Villa's formation charts. This will be quick, because it turns out that we only have five strikers in our senior ranks. But, boy, are they ever good! I hope! We do have cause to be worried, however, because we only scored 52 goals in the 2009-10 season. To put that in context, Chelsea scored 103, almost twice as many. The team directly above us in the table (Man City) scored 73, and the team directly below us (Liverpool) scored 61 despite missing their best - and let's be honest, only - striker for large chunks of the season. So we need someone to get amongst the goals. Will it be one of these five?
John Carew: You have to love John Carew. I mean, really. Great chants, great goals, and, well...this. What more do you want? Analysis? Well, he got ten goals, despite not being guaranteed a starting place over England international and alleged striker Emile Heskey. He was also the top goal scorer in the FA Cup, believe it or not. What? He was!
Gabriel Agbonlahor: Another incredibly talented player who is frustratingly inconsistent. He should be mentioned as a candidate for the English national team, and yet he goes through dry spells too often. However, he can win matches for us, and is doubtlessly one of our most important players. When he's on his game, he can cause defenders nightmares, and he has bags and bags of pace.
Nathan Delfouneso: The best of our stable of Promising Young Brits, the teenage striker was featured in England's U19 squad for the 2010 U19 European Championships. He was awarded the Aston Villa Young Player of the Year award for his performance this year, finally breaking through to challenge for a place in the starting XI. He scored some impressive goals in this year's FA Cup, and came off the bench to score a late winner against Portsmouth in the league. I'm really looking forward to see how he does this year.
Emile Heskey: Better than the punchline he's turned into, although not by much. Scored a preseason goal against Feyenoord that can best be described as "surprising." At this point in his career, he probably shouldn't be starting.
Andreas Weimann: Our other U19 striker who featured in this summer's Euros, Weimann has shown that he is a player of quality when given the opportunity. His big breakthrough is probably still a couple years away, but I'd love to see him "do a Delfouneso," as it were.
What I'd Like To See Saturday:
I wish we could go with Agbonlahor. Striker is such a confidence-based position, and we need to put our faith in Gabby. However, he's injured, so I'm guessing it'll be Carew against West Ham. Hopefully we don't see Heskey.
My ideal is Gabby up top with Ashley Young as a sort of trequartista (I'm dreaming, it should be noted.) But since I imagine Kevin MacDonald is just as Anglocentric as MON, the best I can hope for is a 4-4-2 with Carew and Agbonlahor, featuring Delfouneso as an impact substitute.