Aston Villa season in review: Henri Lansbury and Conor Hourihane

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MAY 07: Steve Sidwell of Brighton and Hove Albion competes for the ball with Conor Hourihane(L) and Henri Lansbury of Aston Villa the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Brighton
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MAY 07: Steve Sidwell of Brighton and Hove Albion competes for the ball with Conor Hourihane(L) and Henri Lansbury of Aston Villa the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Brighton /
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Henri Lansbury and Conor Hourihane joined Steve Bruce’s Aston Villa squad during the January transfer window. In such a short time, both center midfielders impacted the club with their technical qualities and passing range.

CM – Henri Lansbury, 26

Appearances: 17 + (1)

WhoScored Aggregate: 6.80

Goals/Assists: 0/0

CM – Conor Hourihane, 26

Appearances: 13 + (4)

WhoScored Aggregate: 6.80

Goals/Assists: 1/3

Let’s include these two midfielders together given they arrived at Villa Park just days apart. Both performed well in 2017 after switching their long-time clubs. For both, their contracts were running out in the summer, sparking respective sales at Nottingham Forest and Barnsley F.C..

Both players didn’t quite bring the form that made them so good to Aston Villa. Henry Lansbury was billed as a box-to-box fighter – capable of finding the back of the net on trailing runs. While the former was true, Lansbury never quite produced a goal in a Villa shirt. He did, however, record multiple key passes per match; indicating an unlucky run of form from his teammates.

Before his transfer to Villa, Conor Hourihane was a serious contender for Championship Player of the Year (an award that went to Brighton’s Anthony Knockaert). In 25 Barnsley matches, Hourihane scored six goals with a further eleven assists (!).

He was rewarded with two separate call-ups to the Ireland National Team. He made his debut in a 1-0 friendly defeat to Iceland back in March.

Hourihane’s form at Aston Villa was rather impressive, if unspectacular. His quality next year will really show with improved cohesiveness from the club as a whole.

Next: Four strikers Steve Bruce should sign immediately

2017-2018 Prediction: Henri Lansbury is a near lock to start every single league match. His elite box-to-box skills and aggressiveness brings a lot to the squad, playing just ahead of Mile Jedinak. Moreover, despite being clumsy with the ball at times, Lansbury brings elite passing range to the center of the pitch. If fit, mark Lansbury down for 30+ league starts with four goals and four assists.

Likewise with Lansbury, Conor Hourihane is one of the first names in the team sheet. Where he plays, though, is a bit of a question mark. He can play on the left wing where his delivery brings an added element to the Villa attack. Furthermore, he played defensive midfielder to close the season.

His best position is somewhere in between as a number eight. If fit, mark Conor Hourihane down for 30+ league starts with five goals and ten assists.