Villa World

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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.

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

Manchester United Preview

So tomorrow we head to Old Trafford. A difficult fixture for anyone, and traditionally appears to be more difficult for us than just about everyone else. We have an absolutely horrendous record there, and against them generally.

I don’t see this changing tomorrow.

I want it to, of course I do, I’m a Villa fan! But I just think that they are not going to lose three games on the spin. So what are the factors?

History – that is against us, clearly! We have not won there since 1983, we have not beaten them in the league since 1995 and we have not beaten them at all since 1999.

Quality – despite having Liverpool done the double over them, I still believe that Man U are the best team in the country. Gerrard and Torres are two exceptional players that would get into any team in the world; I believe if you stuck them in the Villa team then we’d be a lot closer to 1st, let alone 4th. But for overall quality, United are exceptional.

Form – Manchester United have lost their last two games. Can we make it three? I highly doubt it. It would have been difficult enough without that. It’s strange, against most teams, you would look at them losing two on the spin and see it as hope. Against a team like Man U, it seems to make our task even harder.

So is there any hope? Well, our streak-without-a-win will surely end soon, but that is more likely to be at home to Everton. What does give us reason to feel encouraged is that they have Vidic, Scholes and Rooney suspended, with Berbatov (and possibly Rio Ferdinand) injured. In addition, Carlos Tevez is likely to be feeling less than his freshest having travelled back ‘from Mars’ as Sir Alex Ferguson put it; it’s a shame the game isn’t today really! It is also a shame that Christiano Ronaldo was not sent off against Fulham – he certainly should have been.

Therefore it could be worse. But I still expect tradition to be maintained. To be honest, we may have 8 games left, but as far as I am concerned tomorrow is a write-off. Jeez, I hope no-one on the Villa staff is as defeatist as me!

From our point of view, Martin O’Neill has discussed the possibility of reverting back to 4-5-1. I would like to see that. With Emile Heskey out, he may look to Gabriel Agbonlahor, but if he plays with one up top then I would like to see him stay with John Carew. He could still play Gabby out wide, and shove James Milner or Ashley Young into a more central role, but I think he may go with Nigel Reo-Coker or Steve Sidwell. NRC is likely to play whatever happens, as he may well play at right-back again; in all fairness, I thought he was exceptional there in the return fixture at Villa Park. As Wilfred Bouma is unlikey to return in this fixture and Nicky Shorey continues to be left in the wilderness, Luke Young is likely to remain at left-back, meaning that if NRC does play in midfield, then Carlos Cuellar will play at right-back and Zat Knight will return to partner Curtis Davies. Complicated stuff, eh!

Prediction: 2-0.

April 4, 2009 Posted by | Football | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Various (Weak) Transfer Rumours

Alva Negredo. A few Internet sources have us linked to the 23 year-old Spanish striker, who currently plays for UD Almeria. He formerly played for Real Madrid, who have a buy-back option (believed to be around £5m) so if we are interested then it may be a moot point anyway.

Almen Abdi. Labelled as ‘the new Gareth Barry’ (!) in one report, this is a 22 year-old Swiss play-maker who plies his trade with Swiss side FC Zurich. I know nothing else about him other than he scored a couple of penalties against us in a pre-season friendly last summer.

Jose Manual Jurado. He is an Athletico Madrid player currently on loan at Mallorca, and is another midfielder aged 22. He is quoted as saying:

“To play in the Premier League would be magnificent, as it is a top division, but I have not spoken to anybody as yet.”

(source: http://www.goal.com/)

This would suggest that our being linked to him has no real credibility in it and I can not really say how I feel about that because if I have seen him play, then I have no memory of it.

Dickson Etuhu. Another player that doesn’t really spring to mind although I probably have seen him play. This fella is Nigerian, plays for Fulham and is 26; once again, he plays in midfield.

I would expect much more of this over the next few weeks, and then another summer of expectation, disappointment, delight and frustration!

April 2, 2009 Posted by | Aston Villa, Transfer Rumours | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment