Well, here we go again. The clash of the would be giants but all too often sleeping clubs. Villa and Manchester City are fighting for the chance to play Bolton or West Ham in the sixth round of the FA Cup and both are looking at the cup competition as the most likely route into Europe.
David O’Leary says: ‘I always get a special tingle about the FA Cup, but I’d get a bigger tingle if I was the one to give the Villa fans something to cheer about. It would be lovely to take them to Cardiff. But we know it’s going to be tough to get to the semi-final because we’ve got to beat Manchester City and then see off either Bolton or West Ham. It’s frustrating it’s took so long to get the game on, but it’s going to be a tough game because it hasn’t been the greatest place for us. But our luck’s got to change there sometime and I’d love it to be tonight.’
He said of the first game: ‘We were very poor in the first half of the first tie and very lucky to be going in level at half-time. I thought we edged the second half though and got the goal, but then we had the game stolen away from us in injury-time with the type of set-play that has been costing us.’
Olof Mellberg is looking to correct the last trip to The City Of Manchester Stadium when Villa lost 3-1. He told the official site: ‘We need to be solid for as long as possible because we know we can get the goals like we have in the past. We didn’t play well at home against Manchester City but once we scored, we played better and better. We looked far more solid at the end of the game, but that was when they scored. What it means for the replay is that a lot of people will see us as underdogs. City are a strong home side as well so it will definitely be a difficult game. But we’ll give it a go because we’ve had quite a few difficult away games this season and done well. ‘
He also says ‘the FA Cup is a good chance for us to do something really good this season. We’d love to end up in Europe next season but it’s really important we pick up points as well because we all want to finish as high as we can - definitely not in the bottom half of the table.’
Manchester City Team News:
Sylvain Distin will face a late fitness check. Pearce is hoping the team captain can shake off a groin injury. Trevor Sinclair and Joey Barton are expected to be available but Andrew Cole is still out of action (phew).
Player to watch: Darius Vassell
Lets hope he carries forward his form from the last clash when he missed a couple of sitters.
Aston Villa Team News:
James Milner has failed to shake off a virus and will be missing. Patrik Berger makes his comeback into the squad after missing most of the season with a knee injury. Mark Delaney is still missing due to his knee injury.
Player to watch: Gareth Barry
A last minute injury time header from Micah Richards gave Manchester City the opportunity to take the game to a replay. It took them until the final touch of the ball despite dominating.
But looking to the game, he wants Villa to carry forward the form they showed in the game against Blackburn. I’d assume that he doesn’t mean Thomas Sorenson fumbling or Milan Baros missing three chances though! To be fair, he is right, we played well on Saturday and should have been clear winners if not for silly mistakes. ‘If we play like we did against Blackburn from now until the end of the season, we’ll be a fine team in many ways. Our form in general has been quite good, and we’ve got to keep that going. If we do, that would be lovely and we’ll be talking about preparing for a quarter final of the FA Cup.’
Seats are still available for Citeh fans for tonight’s clash. Stuart Pearce told the Man City official site: ‘I said at the time that your support in the first leg of this tie made me proud to be part of Manchester City Football Club and that it was crucial in giving us this second chance. I know that I and the rest of the team will feel that same pride in your support tonight.’
Villa to win on penalties!