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Barnsley 19:45 A Villa

Downing joins Pires praise

Winger backs veteran to be a hit at Villa Park

By Elliot Ball.   Last Updated: 25/11/10 4:54pm

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Aston Villa midfielder Stewart Downing believes Robert Pires will be a great asset to the club this season.

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"He's been a top player and he's going to be a good signing for us."
Stewart Downing Quotes of the week

Pires joined the Midlanders on a six-month deal last week and could be in line for his first start in Villa colours against former club Arsenal this weekend.

The 37-year-old midfielder had been without a club since being released by Villarreal in the summer and had been training with the Gunners before earning a contract at Villa Park.

And Downing has been impressed by what he has seen from ex-France international Pires and reckons the former World Cup winner will improve Villa's offensive capabilities.

The England wide-man told Sky Sports News HD: "You can still see he's got that touch and vision. He's been a top player and he's going to be a good signing for us.

"We're going to need him and he's going to get game time and with the quality he's got I'm sure he can fit in a few positions.

"He still looks fit and well, that's the main thing. We just need to get him on the field and in the right positions on the ball and I'm sure he can help the team."

Tactics

Under former manager Martin O'Neill, Villa were famed for their use of the counter-attack in games.

Downing hinted that current manager Gerard Houllier believes the old style of play left the players fatigued, which perhaps explains why they have fallen away at the latter stages of the season in recent years.

And the former Middlesbrough winger admits the current boss has got the squad deploying a more efficient way of playing.

"Maybe before we were a counter-attacking team and it worked well," added Downing. "But the new regime wants us to press higher up the pitch and save more energy.

"In different games we've set up in different ways. Against Manchester United we played on the break and did really well with it and in other games, like against Fulham, we've gone from the start and pressed really high."

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