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Aston Villa

Kevin Hughes Aston Villa  By Kevin Hughes

Aston Villa desperately need a playmaking midfielder

Swansea manager Garry Monk heralded a second successive clean sheet as his side made it six points from six in the Boxing Day matchup against Aston Villa.

A Gylfi Sigurdsson, that's what Aston Villa need. The Icelandic midfielder's free-kick goal secured Swansea's Boxing Day 1-0 victory over the Villans and, at the same time as clinching three points for the Welsh club, reminded the visiting Midland side exactly what they are missing.

Villa don't have a player like Sigurdsson, and they badly need one. A midfield playmaker who covets possession and uses the ball to prise open opposition defences, to make the subtle differences which can affect games...

 By Alex Shaw

Premier League Report Cards: How has your team fared so far this season?

The ESPN FC crew give their Premier League week 17 team of the weekend, which includes three Manchester City players and Queens Park Rangers hat-trick hero, Charlie Austin.

As we approach the midway point in the 2014-15 Premier League season, it's time to have a look back at the campaign so far. We asked our ESPN FC bloggers to tackle seven questions. Who's your side's unlikely hero, and who has work to do?

Premier League Report Card

1. Grade

2. Your Season So Far -- In A Sentence

3. Highlight

4. Lowpoint

5. Surprise Star

6. Must Do Better

7. Great Expectations

Each team's grade for the season so far is below. Click on the team name for a comprehensive summary.

Club-by-club guide

Countdown
Leicester
(C-)

Countdown
Hull City
(D)

Countdown
Burnley
(C-)

Countdown
Crystal Palace
(C-)

Countdown
QPR
(E)

Countdown
West Brom
(D)

Countdown
Sunderland
(C)

Countdown
Stoke City
(B-)








Premier League's Best XI outside the established order

Prem XI
ESPN FC's Best of the Rest.

Some facts get quoted so often they become footballing cliches. Seamus Coleman cost 60,000 pounds. Rickie Lambert used to work in a beetroot factory. And now there is the newest: Wilfried Bony has scored more Premier League goals than anyone else in 2014.

There are circumstances to explain what, at first, seemed a strange statistic. Luis Suarez, Diego Costa and Alexis Sanchez spent only part of the calendar year in England. Daniel Sturridge and Sergio Aguero missed significant parts of it because...

Kevin Hughes Aston Villa  By Kevin Hughes

Aston Villa out to banish Boxing Day blues vs. Swansea

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert say he does not "visualise" Ron Vlaar and Fabien Delph leaving Villa Park in the January transfer window.

There's something undeniably special about football in the festive season, but Aston Villa's Boxing Day record is Scrooge-ingly poor. In recent years the club have clearly experienced what might only be described as a Christmas hangover. Villa haven't won a fixture on Boxing Day since 2005.

It's some tale of woe. In 2005, Villa beat Everton 4-0 at home. It was a slightly flattering score line, with Milan Baros and Juan Pablo Angel adding late goals, but nevertheless, scoring four goals at Villa...

 By Alex Shaw

Premier League Report Cards: How has your team fared so far this season?

The ESPN FC crew give their Premier League week 17 team of the weekend, which includes three Manchester City players and Queens Park Rangers hat-trick hero, Charlie Austin.

As we approach the midway point of the 2014-15 Premier League season, it's time to have a look back at the campaign so far. We asked our ESPN FC bloggers to tackle seven questions on their sides. Who's your side's unlikely hero and who has work to do?

Premier League Report Card

1. Grade

2. Your Season So Far -- In A Sentence

3. Highlight

4. Lowpoint

5. Surprise Star

6. Must Do Better

7. Great Expectations

Each team's grade for the season so far is below -- click on the team name for a comprehensive summary.

Club-by-club guide

Countdown
Leicester
(C-)

Countdown
Hull City
(D)

Countdown
Burnley
(C-)

Countdown
Crystal Palace
(C-)

Countdown
QPR
(E)

Countdown
West Brom
(D)

Countdown
Sunderland
(C)

Countdown
Stoke...








Kevin Hughes Aston Villa  By Kevin Hughes

Aston Villa Report Card: A summary of Villa's Premier League season so far

The ESPN FC team are in agreement over Gabriel Agbonlahor's sending off against Manchester United for a tackle against former teammate Ashley Young, citing the forward's tackle was reckless.

With the Premier League season edging towards its halfway point, who has starred for Aston Villa and what can Paul Lambert's men achieve in the second half of the campaign? Here's a look at how Villa have fared so far.

Grade: C-

Your Season So Far -- In A Sentence

Infuriatingly inconsistent as always, with a promising start to the season quickly giving way to six consecutive defeats, a mounting injury list and a premature search for a new assistant manager.

Highlight

September's 1-0 victory at Liverpool...