Given and Aston Villa have questions to answer in the new season

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Aston Villa

1st Team Goalkeepers: Shay Given (36), Brad Guzan (27), Andy Marshall (37), Benjamin Siegrist
(20)

With the arrival of Paul Lambert, it should be a period of optimism at Aston Villa, but with the new season nearly upon us, there’s a feeling of ambivalence around Villa Park. The squad that got a little too close to the relegation battle for comfort hasn’t been overhauled and although they welcome back Darren Bent from injury it’s hard to know what to expect from them.

The goalkeeping ranks sum up the uncertainty. Shay Given was one of Villa’s star performers last season, but his injury troubles and performances for Ireland at the European Championship will have set off a few alarm bells. During the season, there were few suggestions that age was catching up with the Irishman, but as the months rolled by, he became more injury-prone and it seemed to impact his performances. If he has got over the niggles and returned to full health, we can expect the agile and experienced Given we’ve seen for the better part of 20 years of Premier League football. If it’s the sign of the inevitable and irreversible decline that will strike every player, Villa could have a big problem.

Behind him, Villa’s goalkeeping options are far less experienced and proven. Brad Guzan arrived at Villa Park with a big reputation, but his career has stalled. He has made 32 appearances in four years with the Villains and although there have been signs of his ability, the American is far from an established deputy. The fact he was released by the club when his contract expired earlier this summer only to be re-signed a few weeks later hints at the slight indifference towards him. Part of the episode may have been down to contract wranglings, but it doesn’t suggest they have a massive amount of faith in the American.

Backing up Given and Guzan, Villa have goalkeepers at opposite ends of their careers. Andy Marshall is seeing out his career at the club and is an experienced name to call upon if the club suffer an injury crisis with their goalkeepers. Having joined the club’s academy in 2009, Benjamin Siegrist has been promoted to the senior squad for the new season. The young Swiss keeper was part of the team that won the Under 17 World Cup in 2009, a tournament in which he won the Golden Glove award for top goalkeeper. He’s a tall man, but his speed and mobility is impressive. If Given and Guzan stay fit, it’s likely he’ll go out on loan for at least part of the season.


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