BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 25: Karim El Ahmadi of Aston Villa challenges Marouane Fellaini of Everton during the Barclays Premier league match between Aston Villa and Everton at Villa Park on August 25, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
We're back to our regularly scheduled Friday spot. You know, since the universe isn't blowing up and there aren't eleventybillion (estimate) transfer stories. Remember those days? Those last Fridays? Those were fun, weren't they?
Anyhow, we thought that this week might provide an opportunity to take a step back and look as the Aston Villa squad as a whole. Until January rolls around, the squad that we see is the squad we've got. If you love what you see, that's great news. If you hate it, I'm so very sorry.
Nevertheless, we know who is around and who (presumably) will be getting some time on the pitch. So now it's time to play a little game of prediction:
This week's question: Now that we've seen what Paul Lambert will have to work with - at least until January - who do you think will be Aston Villa's most impactful player this season?
You'll find our answers below the jump and, as always, we hope to find yours in the comments!
Aaron: Karim El Ahmadi is the kind of player this club has needed for awhile*, and he's going to be especially important given the new style Villa are trying to play. He's not the world's most creative guy and he's not the dominant physical preference in the midfield a lot of folks are clamoring for, but his ability to read and react defensively and provide the kind of human metronome passing ability in transition that is pretty much a requirement in today's game is vital. He's also impressed me in terms of his ability to make good attacking runs, and that he has a pretty decent shot on him is a nice benefit.
*Jean Makoun looked like he was going to be this player, but we all know how that turned out.
Gareth: After the first few matches, I'm totally convinced that Karim El Ahmadi will be key to whatever Aston Villa will do this season. He's fit in perfectly, and is providing the assured presence on the ball in midfield that I had always hoped to see from Jean Makoun. He's also one of the few essential players (along with Darren Bent) for whom we have no real replacement. If El Ahmadi was knocked out for the season, God forbid, that could push Aston Villa into a relegation dogfight. I can't think of any other player I could say that about, except for maybe Darren Bent, as I mentioned before. It seems silly to say that about someone as new as El Ahmadi, but I genuinely think he will make or break our season.
Andrew: I'll go in a different direction and say Ron Vlaar. While Vlaar has already picked up a cult hero following among Villa fans who've labeled him Concrete Ron or Roncrete or what have you - he's got the task of being better than James Collins. Not exactly gargantuan task, I know but Collins was never as bad as I and a handful of other Villa fans like to remember him as being. The Dutch league isn't exactly known for defense so Ron is going to have to stay consistent whether he's alongside Ciaran Clark or Richard Dunne. So far I'd say he's been pretty damn solid.
Matt: Alan Hutton. Lambert isn't super tall, he might need a step ladder to see.
Kirsten: Also Bazza could use the Hutton-Ladder as well.
Robert: I am really tempted to say Brad Guzan (if he plays all the time, regardless of whether he is good or bad he is sort of, technically by default, the single most impactful player on the pitch), but I really have no idea how much he'll be playing. So instead of him, I'm going to go with the hive mind and say Karim El Ahmadi. He's the type of player who just naturally takes control of a game, and directs traffic in both directions. Thus far he's been better on offense than defense (at least I've noticed his contribution more), but he's sort of the spark plug around which the team will be built. Lambert obviously wants to play possession football, and he'll only be able to do that effectively if Karim El Ahmadi is making things happen.