Gabriel Agbonlahor – Aston Villa man ready for England again?

Gabriel Agbonlahor hasn’t appeared in an England shirt since 2009 against Belarus, the last of his three caps for the national team. That was the same year that Agbonlahor was having his best year in an Aston Villa shirt with 16 goals in 44 appearances, tormenting defences with his combination of deadly speed combined with skill. With three goals already this season, Gabriel Agbonlahor is looking back to his 2009 best and so should he once again be included in Fabio Capello’s England squad?

Gabriel Agbonlahor shows early signs of potential

After coming out of Aston Villa’s youth academy, Gabriel Agbonlahor had his first taste of the Premier League in the 2005-06 season, scoring on his debut against Leeds. He would go on to play in eight more matches, showing signs that his exceptional pace would be a threat against any defender in the league.

Agbonlahor’s best period in an Aston Villa Shirt

The next season Agbonlahor would back up that potential shown the season before, playing in every Premier League game for the Villains, scoring nine times and having one assist. It was the beginning of a productive run for Agbonahor, scoring 22 Premier League goals across the next two seasons, but what may have gone unnoticed were his 19 assists, as he aided almost as many goals as he scored. He was rewarded with his first England cap and a start against Germany where he had a goal disallowed, but was a constant thorn in the side of the Deutschland Mannschaft.


An off season for Agbonlahor

Just as it appeared that Gabriel Agbonlahor was going to continue his rapid rise in the Premier League, the 2010/11 season brought him back down to earth with a bump. First up came the resignation of manager Martin O’Neill, which knocked him and the team sideways. O’Neill was the man who had guided him through his best seasons as a pro, and when new manager Gerard Houiller came in, he preferred to use Agbonlahor as a winger, which didn’t please the Birmingham native at all.

Secondly, Agbonlahor would suffer with injuries, limiting him to just 26 appearances on the season and he would score just three goals in the Premier League, as he struggled to come to grips with Houllier’s system.

Gabriel Agbolahor is back to his best this year

After a torrid season last year, Gabriel Agbonlahor appears to have rediscovered his devastating form of 2009-10 under new manager Alex McLeish. The Scot has changed up the Aston Villa formation to a 4-3-3 using Agbonlahor as a supporting striker to Darren Bent and it is paying dividends already, as Agbonlahor has scored three times and also added an assist. Through just five games, he is scoring a goal every 135 minutes in the Premier League, compared every 537 minutes last season. If we check out his numbers between this campaign and last, the difference is remarkable:
.

2010/11

2010/11
Avg per game

2011/12

2011/12
Avg per game

Games

26

-

5

-

Goals

3

0.12

3

0.6

Assists

1

0.04

1

0.2

Key Passes

20

0.7

5

1.0

Shots

29

1.1

11

2.2

Shots on Target

12

0.46

5

1.0

% on Target

41%

-

45%

-

.
Gabriel Agbonlahor has increased his production across all parts of his game this season compared to last year. He already has the same number of goals as his entire 2010-11 season; more impressively he has one with his right foot, one with his left and one with his head. If he can continue scoring with both feet he will become more of an all-round attacking  threat.

Not only are his goals per game up, his shots and shots on target are too. Although we’re only five games in to the new season, Gabriel Agbonlahor is on pace to take the most shots that he has done in any one season. His previous best was 66 in 2009-10, if he continues on his current 2.2 per game pace, he’ll take 84 shots this season. If he continues to hit the target with 45% of them, he’ll have 38 on the mark.

He has also upped his assists per game ratio compared to last year. In his best spell from 2007-2009 he was averaging an assist every three and a half matches, so he’ll need a few more games before we can fully analyse his distribution threat. What we can use as a good indicator though is his key passes, which are currently one per game, double what they were last season when Gabriel Agbonlahor was being used as a supposed supply man on the wing, so the initial signs are good.

Should Gabriel Agbonlahor be in Fabio Capello’s next England squad?

After his impressive start to this campaign, Gabriel Agbonalhor should be included in Fabio Capello’s next England squad, as he would be a great change of pace man. While he won’t be a starter, he would provide a great option off the bench with his blistering pace, ability to take on defenders and set up a goal.

After a disappointing season last campaign, 2011-12 will be a make or break year for his England chances. The early signs are good and that Gabriel Agbonlahor is primed for a breakout season.

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  1. What has happened to Charles N’Zogbia? « Back Page Football - November 26, 2011

    [...] his move to Aston Villa, he is now playing deeper and narrower in an attempt to support Gabriel Agbonlahor and Darren Bent. N’Zogbia’s opportunity to dribble at defenders has decreased, as has his shots [...]

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