By 90Min
September 19, 2017

Aston Villa host Nottingham Forest this Saturday, just over a year on from the last time the two clubs met at Villa Park.

 

On that encounter in September 2016, then Forest midfielder Henri Lansbury made all the headlines by scoring a late equaliser.

Michael Regan/GettyImages

At the time, Lansbury was the star turn in an average Forest team and was playing superbly for the East Midlands club, so much so that he won Championship player of the month just two months later.

 

His outstanding performances for Forest convinced Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce that Lansbury was the man needed to help fire the Villans back to the Premier League. However, it has been a rocky year for the former Arsenal youth graduate, and Lansbury now finds himself down the pecking order at Villa Park.

 

After starting Villa's opening two league games of the season, the 26-year-old has only been selected in the starting XI once in the following six Championship games. His only start over the past month was not a successful one either, as Lansbury was sent off just after the hour mark against Middlesbrough.

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The central midfielder's performances have been below par this season and he currently lacks the cutting edge he so consistently displayed whilst at the City Ground.

 

During his four-and-a-half-year spell with Forest, Lansbury scored 33 goals in 150 appearances and he was often depended upon for his match-winning contributions.

 

However, so far in 22 appearances for Villa, the midfielder is yet to register a goal for the club. Consequently, Conor Hourihane and Josh Onomah have ousted him from the starting XI.

Aston Villa v Brighton & Hove Albion - Sky Bet Championship
Aston Villa v Brighton & Hove Albion - Sky Bet Championship

Bruce also appears not to be a fan of Lansbury in a deeper role, preferring Glenn Whelan and MIle Jedinak instead.

 

In this regard, Lansbury has perhaps been unlucky, owing to the fact that Bruce always selects a defensive midfielder, limiting the number of spaces for attacking midfielders.

 

In the majority of Championship sides, Lansbury's undoubted quality would allow him a few weeks grace in the team, giving him the opportunity to find his form again. At Villa however, the strength in depth at the club means no one can afford a run of poor performances.

Lansbury was also unfortunate when given a rare starting role against Middlesbrough. The midfielder's 64th minute red card was incredibly harsh, and was ultimately overturned by the Football League.

 

However at the time, Lansbury took much of the flack for Villa's 0-0 draw, which only increased the pressure surrounding the 26-year-old. 

 

It certainly is a testing time for Lansbury, perhaps the most testing of his career, but Villa's number eight needs to get back to the type of form he showed regularly in a Forest shirt.

He undoubtedly has the quality, and perhaps this weekend - a year on from his heroics when Villa last hosted Forest - is a perfect stage for him to resurrect his Aston Villa career. 

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