Gabriel Agbonlahor has made a good start to the new season and will be hoping to recapture the goalscoring form he had in his first few years after breaking through.
The 28 year old has played as both a striker and a winger during his time at Villa Park but this has not stopped him becoming the club’s all time leading Premier League goalscorer and has the record of scoring in 10 consecutive seasons. He has three England caps and some would argue that he should have been given more opportunities.
Agbonlahor came through the ranks at Aston Villa but went out on loan to gain first team experience in 2005 playing for Watford and Sheffield Wednesday before returning to his parent club and making his debut as a 19 year old on the 18th March 2006 against Everton. Villa went on to lose the match 4-1 but Agbonlahor did get his team’s only goal.
Under new manager Martin O’Neill the striker found himself playing on the wing but played every minute of the campaign until the 10th February 2007. He ended the season with nine Premier League goals. In the following season he started superbly scoring six goals in the first 13 games and became a hero after scoring the winning goal against Birmingham City in the 86th minute. In December 2007 he was named the Player of the Month but he could not keep his goalscoring run going, and finished the season with eleven goals.
On the 15th August 2008 he signed a new four year deal with the club and two days later scored a perfect hatrick against Manchester City. During the season he formed a good partnership with John Carew. But after hitting his 10th goal of the season against Blackburn Rovers, he hit a barren spell where he scored only once in 12 games. At the end of the season he was nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award.
The 2009-10 season was his best in terms of goalscoring as he hit 16 goals. He scored yet another winner against Birmingham on the opening day of the season and also against Manchester United which gave Villa their first win at Old Trafford since 1983. After the resignation of O’Neill, Agbonlahor had to play in different roles and help the team in other ways. His level of performances didn’t drop but his opportunities to score did.
After a fantastic start to the 2011-12 season, where he scored three goals in three games and was named the Player of the Month for August, his form tailed off. Some say it was the pressure of being made the club captain after Stiliyan Petrov had been diagnosed with acute leukaemia but he still wore the armband with pride and it was a tough for everyone at the club and it mustn’t have been easy for him to take on the role in them circumstances.
When Paul Lambert took over he did not make Agbonlahor permanent captain and the striker had a slow start under the new manager. After 29 games without a goal he finally broke his duck with a strike against Sunderland on the 3rd November 2012. Against the same opposition he scored his record breaking 61st Premier League goal for the club to make him their highest ever goalscorer. Last season though he once again struggled to find the back of the net but he has two goals so far this season and will be hoping he can make it to double figures.
The final word can go to Paul Lambert. “When you have that speed and power then anything is possible, and he is a strong lad, he really is a powerful boy. If he gets a run then you need to bring him down because I don’t think he can be caught.”