Christian Benteke

Ones to Watch: Aston Villa

by Ashley Houghton

We profile three Villans to keep an eye on.

Christian Benteke

Belgian international Christian Benteke has been a shining light in Aston Villa’s difficult 2012-13 Barclays Premier League campaign.

The 22-year-old signed for the Villains from Genk in the summer of 2012 and has become a fan favourite at Villa Park, bagging 19 goals in 36 games in his eight months in the Midlands.

Benteke started his professional career with Genk before moving to Standard Liege in 2009. He then returned to Genk in 2011 following loan spells with Kortrijk and Mechelen.

It was during his second spell with Genk that Benteke caught the eye of multiple top-flight clubs, including Villa who paid a reported £7m for his services on transfer deadline day.

Benteke scored on his Villa debut in a 2-0 win over Swansea at Villa Park and he has since scored key goals in Villa’s battle for survival, including a double at Anfield in a 3-1 victory over Liverpool back in December.

Andreas Weimann

Austrian international Andreas Weimann came through the youth ranks at Villa Park after being snapped up as a 16-year-old from hometown club Rapid Wien.

Weimann was prominent in the youth and reserve teams at Villa before making his debut in 2010; replacing Ashley Young in the 87th minute as the Villans beat West Ham 3-0 at Villa Park.

After making his debut Weimann continued to impress in the reserves before spending two loan spells with Watford in January and August of 2011.

Towards the end of the 2011-12 season, Weimann was a regular figure in Villa’s match-day squads, scoring his first goal as a 92nd-minute substitute when the Midlands club beat Fulham 1-0 at Villa Park in March 2012.

Like Benteke, Weimann has impressed this time around, notching 11 goals in 34 games.

Brad Guzan

USA international Brad Guzan signed for Aston Villa in 2008 after starring for Chivas USA in the MLS where he was named Goalkeeper of the Year.

The 28-year-old has made his biggest impact on the Barclays Premier League in the 2012-13 campaign after serving as understudy to Brad Friedel and Shay Given in his first five years with the club.

After impressing in a loan spell at Hull City, Guzan returned to the Villa side to replace Given who was ruled out with a hamstring injury towards the end of the 2011-12 season.

New manager Paul Lambert included Guzan in his squad for the start of the new campaign and the American has been ever-present under Lambert, playing 31 league games so far this season.