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The Week In Villa #36

Is available here.

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May 1, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , | Leave a comment

John Carew to stay at Villa

That is a subject I am discussing over on Vital Villa. Click here to read it.

“John Carew, Carew, he’s bigger than me and you…”

April 30, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , , | Leave a comment

Taking A Look At The Reserves…

I have a new article on Vital Villa, entitled ‘Sheriff Kimbo looks at the Reserves’… click here to check it out.

April 30, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , | Leave a comment

Wednesday Round-Up, 29/4/09

As I didn’t update after the WHAM! game, I thought we could take a little look at the happenings in and around Villa Park.

Ashley Young wins PFA Player of the Year. Good for him. I am a fan of Ashley Young, but I do feel that he has not been at his best since getting suspended for his sending-off in the Sunderland game. He appears to be more wasteful than at any other time in his Villa career. Perhaps he is just a little over-rated right now.  I mean, he got three player of the month awards in a calendar year, but I would argue whether he was even Villa’s best player in that month! Still, he is a good lad. He works hard, is a delight to watch at times and I think has the potential to be a great player for us as long as he keeps his feet on the ground. I’d like to see him cut out the diving, too!

Laursen and Bouma. Martin Laursen is likely to retire soon, which is horrible. Not just for a Villa point of view, but for him. Wilfred Bouma is now not going to be making a comeback this season. To me that is okay, I just want him back for next season. It’s a cliche, but it really will be like signing a new player.

The Reserves win the league. I was there, too. The club deserve tremendous credit for the Academy work, and a lot of them lads are what have won us that league. Sure there has been the odd contribution (mostly Nicky Shorey) from first- players but overall it’s a bunch of young lads that will all stand a good chance of being relative successes in football – hopefully, in the main, with us! Congratulations to all involved.

MON discusses the Old Firm. The annual should-Celtic-and-Rangers-join-the-EPL question has come up. When asked, MON has unsurprisingly said yes. For me, I can see the arguement but it raises too many questions and in all honesty, would Celtic and Rangers fans want it? After all, would they qualify for the Champions League on a consistent basis? They would certainly be in a better position financially and the potential for both clubs would be enormous, but they would not be in a position to be as dominant as they are now and subsequently I don’t ever see it happening.

Speaking of MON… He also won a libel case against Football365 regarding an article from May 2008 involving his dealings with Rafa Benitez. According to BBC Sport, his representative Paul Hackney said,

“It appeared to the claimant there was a campaign by some of the employees of the defendant to try to undermine the claimant’s reputation”

Amusingly, the article came 16 days after 365 Media Group had apologised for another libellous piece concerning the Villa manager’s dealings in the transfer market. Lawyers for 365 Media Group apologised and will pay the costs of action at the High Court in London. Cretins!

And finally, transfer talk a-plenty! We have been linked with… *takes a deep breath*… Dorin Goian (Steaua Bucharest, defender), Rafael van der Vaart (Rea Madrid, midfielder), Fabian Delph (Leeds, midfielder), Nikola Zigic (Valencia, on-loan at Racing Santander, Striker), Ibrahim Afellay (PSV, attacking midfielder), Mohammed Sarr (Standard Liege, defender), Paul Scharner (Wigan, defender/midfielder), Yohan Cabaye (Lille, midfielder) and Nathaniel Clyne (Crystal Palace, right-back). We will probably sign none of them!

April 29, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bolton Review – Why one wasn’t done!

It’s not that I didn’t care!

I didn’t get round to doing a preview due to a variety of reasons, but one was that Firefox crashed as I had just finished it and I couldn’t be bothered to do it all again!

Not that I will show the same attitude next season; I plan on running a proper site that will probably not be on WordPress. I may just concentrate on Vital Football though depending on what happens… it is not that I am disorganised, it is that I have a few irons in the fire and I am waiting to see what happens.

As for a review of the game, the problem was I didn’t see it all the way through. I tried to get it on the internet and got to see about a third of the first half and around half of the second half. As it was, I got to see both goals and from what I saw and heard, I didn’t miss much anyway.

Bolton got a point towards safety (although I would say they were safe anyway) and we got a point more than Everton did, which is now the important race. Of course it is still mathematically possible for us to qualify for the Champions League but we all know it’s now a million-to-one shot; if anything I am now thoroughly behind Arsenal to win the Champions League. After all, if they do, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway!

One word on Young’s goal – no, it wasn’t deliberate, but it was a fantastic cross which always has the possibility of going in when hit like that. I ould just like him to get back to doing that on a more consistent basis. Since his suspension he hasn’t been playing as well. Why that is I have no idea, but hopefully he will be back to his best next season.

April 29, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , , , | Leave a comment

WHAM! Review

(No, I haven’t been to see the band…)

Just like the weekend before, it was a good game where I was annoyed we didn’t win. West Ham certainly had their fair share of the chances but so did we and a draw is arguably the right result. That said, 1-0 up with five minutes to go, you always have to be disappointed when you don’t go on to win. It was obviously disappointing that Rob Styles, who is THE worst ref in the Premiership, failed to give us a penalty. But the defending and failure to take chances of both teams meant that on this day, Aston Villa and West Ham were both their own worst enemies.

Neither side are great at the back, neither side could take their chances (barring on each, obviously) and both sides play some nice stuff. Both teams are also in what is probably their ‘right’ position for the season and may well still be there come game 38. That said, going on current form, Tottenham are probably the favourites to take the 7th spot, but with them still facing trips to Anfield and Old Trafford, I am sure the Spammers fans will be hopeful. Personally, I hope Fulham get there though, as I think Roy Hodgson has done a fantastic job. That said, I would like any of the London clubs to get it ahead of Man City. It just seems like footballing justice every time they lose a game of football.

Given the circumstances, we needed the three points. I genuinely felt that if we could take 19 points from our last 21, that Arsenal may slip up enough to give us a fighting chance of regaining 4th spot. Now, that is simply too much to ask. Obviously we must keep going until it is mathematically impossible but, much like our neighbours from West Bromwich, the painful defeat is now not just staring us in the face, it is giving us a big sloppy kiss!

When you consider our home form, the one thing it has to do is give us hope for next season; rectify it, and CL football in 2010-2011 will be a very real, distinct possibility. Maybe we will not be able to sustain the away form, but I don’t see why we should not and even if we don’t, turning these home draws into wins is likely to more than counteract any slip in points obtained away. I’m sure Arsenal will also point to games where they should have won, but the difference is, each of the last three seasons we have been progressively getting better, whereas Arsenal have progressively been getting worse. In addition, Chelsea will not have Guus Hiddink and consequently could face a downturn in form. Plus as we all now, Liverpool are one serious injury to Steven Gerrard away from slipping out of the top 4 themselves.

The top 4 are the top 4 and that is how it is. That is how it will finish this season, and they will – rightfully so – be considered the favourites to finish that way again next season. But in my opinion, the only guaranteed certs are Manchester United. After that, while the other three WILL be the most likely, I am sure that the likes of ourselves and Everton – and probably Citeh & Spuds – will be putting up an even tougher fight next season.

April 20, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Week In Villa #34

Available here.

April 17, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , | Leave a comment

Bouma Suffers Setback

Left-back Wilfred Bouma will not be making a comeback this season after Martin O’Neill revealed that there have been further complications.

“There have been some floating particles in the ankle that might have been there for some time or might have broken off in his rehab,” said O’Neill.

“We will know better about that by the middle of next week but I think the idea is that it is best to get the surgery done now.” (Source: BBC Sport)

To me, much like Martin Laursen, if him remaining on the sidelines for the rest of this season means he is ready to go next season, then hopefully that will be the case. Bouma – like Laursen – is a popular character within Aston Villa and it’s supporters, and we are all hoping for themselves and the team that they make full recoveries and are ready to go next season.

April 17, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , , , | Leave a comment

West Ham Preview

Well, to have ANY chance of Champions League football next season, we need to win 6 out of 6 & hope Arsenal lose 3 out of 6. No bother then! Er…

On the injury front news, Gabriel Agbonlahor is likely to be out, but Emile Heskey is expected to return. Carlos Cuellar is looking good for a return too, although nothing confirmed yet. Martin Laursen and Wilfred Bouma remain on the injured list. I would imagine that if the former is all the case then I’d expect Heskey and Cuellar to come in for Agbonlahor and Knight.

Personally I thought Nathaniel Delfounso did well enough against Everton – and has looked good whenever he has been involved this season – to push for a starting place and I believe that it is a better combination up top;  for me it should be Carew/Heskey with Agbonlahor/Delfounso. Plus of course 4-5-1/4-3-3 is still an option, but I expect us to play 4-4-2.

West Ham have Dean Ashton and Carlton Cole both injured, but if we don’t improve our defending tomorrow then they are still likely to grab a goal or two!

They are no mugs at West Ham but our bad run has gone on too long now and the law of averages alone suggests it will end soon… the last two performances have also been much better and therefore I am feeling confident that we can get the win. If we don’t, we need to start looking down rather than up…

Prediction: Villa 3-1 West Ham

April 17, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , | Leave a comment

MON laments Laursen loss

Martin O’Neill has admitted that Martin Laursen is unlikely to play again this season. He last played against West Brom in January, where he was coming back from the knee injury – and in hindsight it was too soon. Maybe if he had rested a while longer then he would have been in a position to come back. However, what is done is done, and to be honest I just hope he is ready for next season.

MON has also alluded to the fact that not only have we missed him defensively, but also from an attacking point of view.

“You just can’t keep moaning because he’s been out,” said O’Neill. “You’ve just got to address it and try and go forward with it. But we have missed him this season.

“I’ve likened him to a Paul McGrath-type here. Martin has been immense for us and we have missed his presence.

“We’ve missed his presence defensively and, interestingly enough, we’ve actually missed it in the opposition box.” (Source: Express & Star)

Martin Laursen was the best signing of David O’Leary in terms of ability, and you have to believe that DOL would have done a little better had Laursen been fit. Not saying he would have done great, just better!

If Martin Laursen is available next season, then brilliant. If he is not, then that is a huge shame for the player, and something that will be very worrying for us. Clearly we have missed him hugely and while I think it would be ludicrous to suggest that our bad run is down to his absence alone, it has certainly been a factor.

April 15, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , , , | Leave a comment