Well it`s that time of year again, Easter! A time for chocolate eggs, rabbits, some dude named Jesus and, chocolate eggs!
It is also a time for Aston Villa to get back to winning ways following a 7-1 humiliation by a resurgent Chelsea side, prompting questions as to the manager`s own future with Aston Villa. This seemingly drove Martin O`Neill to take drastic measures in which to avoid questioning, including a swift trip to the moon as reported by J.Fear on this very website in the article Martin O’Neill Has Been Found On The Moon.
I must admit I was surprised to know that the former Leicester and Celtic boss had connections with the folks at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, however it does appear that the Russian Space Agency found time to pop him back for this weekends vital Premier League clash, as far as Villa’s top four aspirations are concerned!
Bolton meanwhile, after Burnley
Judas hero Owen Coyle has been creating an escape of not-quite-so-great proportions, however the slightly less hoof-ball side have started to look towards next seasons EPL, rather than parachute payments and a less than exciting wet midweek away tie against Scunthorpe in the Fizzy Pop league.
Having safely removed his space suit, Martian O’Neill released a statement of the increasingly growing rumours that he is set to tender his resignation at the end of the season. The rather dry and simple warbling was posted on avfc.co.uk:
‘In light of ongoing and perplexing reports – despite my efforts to bring clarity to the situation earlier today – I would like to reiterate one or two points which, to me, are essential.
Every summer, since taking this job in August 2006, I have sat down and discussed the season in general with my chairman, Randy Lerner, attempting also to formulate plans for how we hope to keep improving the club year on year. This summer will be no different. I have a yearly rolling contract and I hope to continue to do a job, the challenges of which I enjoy immensely.’
Turning his attention towards the trip to the weekend trip to the Reebok trainers stadium, O’Neill was slightly more positive, and less argumentative:
We definitely have something to put right because that was a very poor result in terms of the score line against Chelsea.
‘I cannot guarantee winning the game on Saturday but what I can guarantee is a very strong performance. We will be going all guns blazing. We will try and play with the same gusto and determination that we have had for this season.
‘It’s [top four finish] possible and what you would have to do is pick up in the region of seven points from nine, in the next three games, to give yourself a realistic chance of staying in the mix.’
Turning his attention to the opposition he muttered:
‘Bolton are a very fine side. They have been fighting all year, they know how to scrap. They can cause you plenty of problems.
‘That means I cannot guarantee winning the game but I can guarantee a really spirited performance and one the football club is used to rather than the last half hour of the last game.’
Finishing up with:
‘I can’t guarantee victory at all but what I can guarantee is a very strong performance from us.’
So what he is trying to suggest is, he’s guaranteeing a win!
Meanwhile, as previously reported, Aston Villa are boosted by the return of Andy Marshall, who spoke of the great spirit amongst the Villa squad, something he sees a lot of from the large amount of time he spends resting!
‘Since I joined the club, playing has been fantastic but the lay-off has been horrendous.
‘The thing that kept me going were the lads at the football club. They are a great bunch, a fantastic bunch. All the lads get on really well. We have a good camaraderie between us.’
So as long as everyone is happy, except for the reports that the manager’s plans to take the team away this week were thwarted, the squad shunning some springtime sunshine for beautiful Blighty and all it’s rain-lashing glory!
Owen Coyle believes that the 7-1 drubbing that Villa suffered will have no baring on this weeks match, especially with Bolton being thumped 4-0 by Manchester United just 24 hours later.
As both sides look for the crucial 3 points that could mean so much to both clubs fortunes come mid-May, Coyle is in confident mood:
‘Aston Villa want the points to reinforce their claim for a Champions League qualification spot and there is no doubt that we are still in the group of teams that are all desperate for points to move up the table.
‘To do that then you have to win your games but we know on Saturday that it will be a tough match against a real quality side. Like I say, they are fighting for fourth position, have been to the Carling Cup final and are in the FA Cup semi-final next week.
‘But we are at home where we have been playing very well recently, and we have to look to turn last week’s performance over 70 minutes into one for 90 to 95 minutes.’
Meanwhile, Bolton defender and all round giant monster of a defender Zat Knight claims that he has no regrets over his Villa Park departure. I think most Villa fans would happily admit we are doing better without him despite a number of reasonable performances, and are glad to see that Zatiyah forging a career after his time as a Villan.
Villa fan Zat spoke to skysports.com:
‘I don’t live in regret.’
‘Going to Villa was a dream of mine and I lived it – but now I have moved on. I don’t beat myself up about it. You could say it is stepping stones but that’s football. It isn’t something I look back on and wonder, what if?
‘I did it for my own personal reasons.’
Fair enough Mr Knight!
Mr Knight was the name of my old head teacher, I bet if he read this he would be extremely proud of these articles!
Bolt-On Wanderers Team News:
Bolton have been boosted that striker Johan Elmander has recovered despite needing six stitches in a head wound suffered against Manchester United, courtesy of Nemanja Vidic’s Alan Shearer style elbow to the noggin.
Paul Robinson faces a late fitness test, and I assume a transfer as the last I remember he played for Blackburn!
Player to watch: Jack Wilshere
Owen Coyle has hinted that he would rather quite like to keep hold of Wilshere for another season, with the Arsenal youngster thoroughly impressing during his loan spell. Certainly the one to watch as far as we are concerned!
AVFC Team News:
If BBC Sport are to be believed, almost everyone is set to undergo a late fitness test. Since the initial rumours of John Carew’s recurrence of a back injury, there has been little info. The usual suspects are long term injured.
Player to watch: Brad Friddy P
Brad’s back is probably pretty sore from having to pick the ball out of the back of the net 7 times at Stamford Bridge, so he may wish to consider stopping it before it gets that far in order to save the aching muscles. We shall soon see!
Match Facts & Stats
Given the way that some Villa fans are starting to feel about their manager, and the fact the dude comes from Bolton, here’s Disillusion by Badly Drawn Boy.
Cool hat, not as cool as mine mind you!
Bolton is also famous for the Kay twins, vernon and Peter, Fred Dibnah and MLS superstar John Cunliffe.
John Cunliffe played for the San Jose Earthquakes, but was placed on waivers (effectively released if someone wanted him) and now plays for the Carolina RailHawks.
The RailHawks play in some daft temporary league, and can be found at carolinarailhawks.com if you are particularly bored.
Did you know that the Reebok Stadium has a hotel built into it? Given the style of play, under Sam Allardyce the windows were quadruple glazed in order to keep them safe from the stay long ball!
Bolton is twinned with Zhaoqing (try saying that drunk) in Guangdong province. I have never been there, but I’m sure it is nice.
Mike Jones will be the one taking charge of this match. Mr Jones likes his yellow cards, whipping out 94 in just 28 games. It is his second Villa game this season, the last one he booked Stan Petrov for crimes against hair.
748-12 to the good guys!
Wem-ber-leeeeee! FA Cup weekend against Chelsea!
Thanks for reading folks, keep an eye out as the player profiles will be coming to a screen near you!