With a point to prove, Henri Lansbury should be given the opportunity to remove his forgotten man label whilst Grealish is sidelined.
Words by Harry Trend (@HazaTrand)
Henri Lansbury seems to be a constant enigma at Aston Villa, after signing from Nottingham Forest for £3 million in January 2017, the midfielder has been in and out of the side due to a combination of injuries and the good form of other players.
Yet Lansbury was one of Villa’s few bright sparks in the 3-0 home defeat to Swansea City on Saturday. The 28-year-old came on after the hour mark and to my knowledge, didn’t misplace a pass. These weren’t square, short ones either; long sweeping balls which cut the Swans defence. Lansbury almost troubled Erwin Mulder with a long shot too.
Villa’s midfield is the strongest it’s ever been since we dropped down to the Championship, but with Grealish out until February, there’s a gap that needs to be filled.
Lansbury isn’t the ball carrier like Grealish, but he’s similar to Hourihane in the sense that he can dictate the tempo. The midfielder has that aggression which could see him at CDM, freeing up Hourihane, or Lansbury could play further forward himself with a passing ability good enough to provide the link between the midfielders and the forwards.
One of the criticisms levelled at Smith over a poor Christmas period is that he didn’t rotate enough, if anything Lansbury just adds legs to the midfield.
After his injury against the Blues, Dean Smith exclaimed how he was making good progress up to that point, showing he see’s something in him, “He’s been doing really well and has played in a few behind-closed-doors games for us. He’s been pushing to get on and did well when he did.”
Moreover, Lansbury’s contract runs out in 2021, so even if he’s not a key man, Smith might as well increase his market value by playing him.
The question mark over Lansbury is if he’s forever destined to be that impact player for Villa. Last season he came on against Leeds United, controlled the game and got the equalising goal, then started a week later against Millwall. The 28-year-old was almost anonymous and picked up a knock.
That’s a mindset thing though, Lansbury knows he’s not one of Smith’s preferred options, so as we saw on Saturday, he’s playing with something to prove.
As the saying goes, Lansbury can play himself into fitness. With three winnable fixtures coming up at against Wigan, Hull and Ipswich, this would be the perfect time for Villa’s forgotten man to become remembered.