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Villa Year 2013: Collymore picks his memorable moments
Memories of Stan Collymore.
31st Dec 2013
Villa Year 2013: Collymore picks his memorable moments


Here talkSPORT pundit, former Villa striker and programme columnist Stan Collymore selects his best things of 2013 - in several different categories.

There's Best Game, Best Performance, Best Goal, Best Player, Memorable Moment and Inspiring Moment.

Read below to check out the thoughts of Collymore.

Best Game

I'm sure a lot of Villa fans would go for the 3-2 home win over Manchester City, but my choice is the 2-2 derby draw against Albion.

The Baggies have been top dogs in the Midlands for the past couple of years, and there's no doubt that they are Villa's big rivals, rather than Blues. It was cracking night at The Hawthorns.

When Albion went two-up in no time, there seemed no way back, and there might not have been if Stephane Sessegnon hadn't missed a sitter which would have made it three.

I was getting all sorts of social media messages from Baggies fans at that stage, all suggesting their team would win by six or seven.

But Paul Lambert's substitutions couldn't have worked any better, and those goals from Karim El Ahmadi and Ashley Westwood changed the whole complexion of the game.

If it the hasted another five or six minutes, in fact, I reckon Villa might well have snatched victory.

All the same it was great to get such a positive result after a nightmare start.

Benteke

Best Performance

When you look at the quality of Arsenal, and what the Gunners have done since, Villa's 3-1 opening day victory at the Emirates Stadium was a remarkable achievement.

To go to Arsenal on the first day of the season was a daunting task, particularly when Lambert's Lions fell behind in the first few minutes.

But after the setback of Olivier Giroud's early goal, Villa came storming back in style.

The Gunners couldn't cope with Gabby Agbonlahor's pace, which earned two penalties for Christian Benteke.

And even though Christian needed a rebound to convert the first, there was no question about the way he despatched the second.

Then we had the amazing sight of Antonio Luna bursting through the middle for a third goal towards the end.

To score three goals against Arsenal at any time is fantastic but to do it on their own ground on the opening day really was a bit special.

Another strong contender was the 6-1 thrashing of Sunderland in April, a result which went a long way towards keeping Villa in the top flight.

But given the gulf in class between the Black Cats and the Gunners, it has to be the game at the Emirates.

Best Goal

As always, there are several nominations in this category.

I can't make my mind up between Villa's goal of the season for 2012-13 and one that will take some beating this time around.

They were both spectacular and - equally important - they were both crucial strikes in the heat of important derby games.

Matt Lowton's volley in the 3-1 win at Stoke City was simply amazing and it was effectively the winner because it put Villa back in front after the Potters had equalised and looked like denying Villa a couple of points.

And Ashley Westwood's superb strike in the 2-2 draw against the Baggies was just as impressive.

All right, so Goran Popov's header from Gabby Agbonlahor's deep cross wasn't the best clearances.

But Ashley's superb control, and the composure he displayed as he took a couple of strides before unleashing an unstoppable shot was sheer class.

Guzan

Best Player

Brad Guzan was Villa's player of the season for 2012-13 - and he's my player of the year.

It was tempting to go for Christian Benteke because his goal output between January and the end of last season was phenomenal.

Those goals undoubtedly kept Villa in the top flight, although he hasn't been so prolific this time.

Fabian Delph has done it the other way around, producing his best form in a Villa shirt to lead the way in the race for this season's Terrace Trophy.

But Guzan has been consistently good throughout the whole of the calendar year.

He had to settle for the role of understudy to fellow American Brad Friedel and then to Shay Given over the course of four seasons and was then told he could leave.

But since Paul Lambert re-signed him on a new deal he has been excellent - and some of his saves have been nothing short of miraculous.

Even better, he is a vivacious and open guy who is always willing to come and have a chat with me on talkSPORT whenever I'm covering Villa games!

Gabby Agbonlahor

Memorable Moment

It wasn't the greatest goal of career but when Gabby Agbonlahor scored the sixth against Sunderland in April it made him Villa's highest Premier League scorer.

I'm sure he would have like to achieve the feat in a shorter space of time but it was an impressive achievement to pass the record Dwight Yorke had held since 1998.

Gabby has been at the club for a long time and has played alongside some fantastic players in claret and blue.

But unlike a lot of others he has never displayed any desire to leave and it's fitting that he has established a record on which he can improve over the next few seasons.

NextGen

Inspiring Moment

Villa won the title and the FA Cup seven times each, the League Cup five times and, of course, the European Cup and European Super Cup.

And this year we added another trophy to the Villa Park trophy cabinet - the NextGen Trophy.

Villa have a great academy set-up and I was delighted when our under-19s triumphed in Europe, beating Chelsea 2-0 in the final at Lake Como.

They also beat Sporting Lisbon in the semi-final in Italy, having overcome Ajax and Olympiacos in the previous knockout stages.

Youth is important to any club and it would be great to see a few of the youngsters who won the trophy progress to Villa's first team over the next few years.

For the moment, though, let's just savour a wonderful achievement.

As I tweeted at the time: Watkins, Webb, Kinsella, Calder, Donacien, Lewis, Barton, Carruthers, Robinson, Burke, Grealish - CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE!

Make sure you pick up match tickets for Villa v Sheff Utd.

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