Great Gabby!

By Tom Vickers
Last updated : 25 November 2008
We're 13 games into the current season, in fifth place in the league and progressing smoothly towards the knock out stages of the UEFA Cup at the first time of asking. I think it's safe to safe we're really rather good.

Yet we're still very much a work in progress, the manager and chairman have only been in their current positions a little over two years. Fans are still getting to know the likes of Luke Young, Nicky Shorey, Carlos Cuellar, Steve Sidwell (who did you know has his marriage vows tattooed on his back….in full, each to their own), Brad Friedel and Brad Guzan.

First team regulars and star players like Ashley Young, John Carew, Stiliyan Petrov, Curtis Davies and Nigel Reo Coker have all also only been at the club two years or less. It's very much the team that Martin and Randy built along with the others who weren't lost along the way.

The question is: Of the current crop, who is our most important player? We will be running a feature counting down from five to one and here's number five.

Gabby Agbonlahor

While rightly making the top five, Gabriel Imuetinyan Agbonlahor is far from the finished article, showing no signs of having a trick up his sleeve to beat a player other than raw pace which will only get you so far. His touch is hardly adhesive, he can drift out of games and display no particular interest in getting back into them.

He seems to speak more about getting into the England team than improving his form for Villa and laps up the crowd's adulation even when he isn't playing well.

All that aside, he has the manager's utmost faith which counts for a lot and is a regular fixture in the side. Gabby looks set to be our main goal hope for the foreseeable future.

So why does he make the top 5? Well, firstly, as an athlete he is absolutely frightening, certainly one of the quickest players in the Premier League and is clearly working hard in the gym on his physique. This added strength has meant he has recently been powerful enough to do a passable job as a target man, Agbonlahor is able to easily hold off defenders or indeed use Joey Barton as a javelin.

When given the chance more often that not he scores, his chances to goals ratio must be one of the highest in the division. His heading too is underrated , despite being know primarily as a speed merchant, quite a number of his goals come in the air.

When in the mood, in particular against teams who hold a high line, his running in behind can be devastating. He can work the channels well and obviously once he is clear no one can catch him.

The 22 year old has finally made his England debut and his form for Villa will dictate how often he represents his country in the future. Major championships could well await.

The initial criticisms of him, while founded, could be considered harsh given his age (22) and taking that into account it is only fair to acknowledge the leaps and bounds at which he has progressed season by season making him one of the top scorers in the league.

He now keeps company with the likes of Nicolas Anelka and Cristiano Ronaldo no less.

Agbonlahor has all the tools to become a renowned Aston Villa striker even if he is not what you describe as a "fox in the box".

He looked absolutely imperious as he strode effortlessly past the futile attempts of William Gallas to halt his progress last Saturday, displaying his trademark speed and awesome power before riffling past Manuel Almunia.

Another feature of his play is his ability to do it on the big occasion which is a hallmark of a top player. Prior to scoring against Arsenal last Saturday, he had also found the target against Chelsea, Liverpool and against Manchester United.

Gabby could well be a Villa great!

Aston Villa Match Reports

Sky Bet Championship Tue 21st November 19:45

Aston Villa 2 - 1 Sunderland

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