Take a closer look at Villans’ stars.
Ahead of every game, we profile three prominent performers for the opposition – this week it’s Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa.
Towering Dutch centre-back Vlaar started his career at AZ Alkmaar. He made ten appearances for his first club before moving to Feyenoord, where he established himself as a regular in the first team. In a six-year spell at De Kuip, partly hindered by injuries, he played over 100 league games and won the KNVB Cup in 2008. He moved to Villa this summer and manager Paul Lambert was quick to name him as his captain. For Holland, he won the Under-21 European Championships in 2006 and again as captain in 2007. He has made 12 appearances for the senior side and was called up for Euro 2012.
The Tamworth-born winger has been at Aston Villa from the age of eight, working his way up through the ranks at the club. He was handed his Barclays Premier League debut by then-Villa manager Martin O’Neill in 2009, and made his first league start for the club a year later. He scored the Premier League’s 20,000th goal against Arsenal in December 2011. Albrighton also scored on his debut for England Under-21s against Lithuania.
Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Benteke fled the war-torn country for Belgium aged two. The tall striker quickly rose to prominence in his adopted home, spending his youth career at Standard Liege before securing a senior deal with Genk at the age of 17. He moved back to Liege where he won the Belgian Pro League in 2009. He once again swapped Liege for Genk, resulting in a prolific 2011-12 season, where he scored 19 goals in 37 games. This attracted the interest of Villa and he signed a four-year deal in the summer. Benteke scored on his Barclays Premier League debut against Swansea. The 21-year-old has also grabbed three international goals in just 10 appearances for Belgium.