After a dismal run of performances, starting in ‘Prioritisation Round 1` against Everton, Martin O`Neill decided that the best form of punishment for his mis-firing side was to take them on holiday.
Reality will however return to bite their collective backsides this weekend, should they fail to recognise the threat that is a Tottenham Hotspur side that we have all enjoyed watching slide their way down the Premier League table. With Hazza contradicting himself at every throw of the dice (see later), Martin O`Neill is beginning to rival him with his “small squad – loan exit” policy.
Ignoring this though, Bouma`s eaten all the in-flight peanuts, Gabby has finally got all of the sand out of what little hair he has, and John Carew is wondering what to do with the 250 travel pillows he swiped for his sore back.
It`s Villa, Spurs, where was my postcard Salifou? – Preview!
It`s another Arsene classic:
“To lift the quality of the game, it’s very important that this kind of competition exists. England should be proud of that.
“Some people are not happy with that, I see that with some statements, but I think England has created top quality and is admired all over the world, sometimes inside the country we are not conscious of that. It is always good when someone pushes the quality up.”
Arsene Wenger commenting on the English domination of the UEFA Champions League. It should be noted that in Arsenal`s penalty shootout victory over Roma, the Gunners boss played a single Englishman in Theo Walcott, with another (Kieran Gibbs, 2 subs appearances for the first team) warming the bench.
With so much criticism of the modern game, the calls for goal-line technology, the diving, the cheating, the imaginary card waving, it is good to see that Villa centre back Zat Knight is a rare flash of what used to be grit, muscle and determination in the Premier League. The Harvey Nicholas` facial regular told the Birmingham Mail:
“If you go back five, ten years then the idea of a footballer having a facial would have been unheard of,” said the star.
“These days, because most players are constantly in the spotlight, they want to look their best. When it comes to clothes they like their designer labels and they also like to take care of themselves.”
“Whether it`s a full day`s training or playing a match, spending a lot of time on the pitch at Villa Park in all weathers can play havoc with my skin.
“I find my regular facial is enough to keep it in optimum condition.. Most men, from city executives to real lads, know that taking care of their skin is far from sissy.”
Meanwhile, Villa boss Martin O`Neill believes that regardless of who does what to whom, it is Villa that are in charge of their own destiny. Monny spoke to avfc.co.uk:
“In truth, it is up to us. I have watched games before where we haven’t been involved and you’re thinking ‘I hope someone does us a favour.’
“But eventually you realise the only people who are going to do you any favours are yourselves. It is up to us.
“We are in a position now where we need to dust off the cobwebs and come out fighting.
“We have got this far now and it would be pathetic to let this season peter out. We won’t let that happen.”
On the flip-flop side. I`m not giving him too much press as he`s bombarded the media almost constantly with his inane babblings. Harry Redknapp believes that English talent is in short supply, despite Martin O`Neill seemingly able to stockpile the nations youngsters at free will:
“If I could find good, young English players, I would, but it is very, very difficult.
“You can go out and make a point of buying English players, but if they`re not good enough, it`s a waste of time. I do think there is a dearth of top young English players.
“We`re certainly not overloaded. I think the group of players we have in the national team at the moment are the best we have had for a long time. But I fear that they are also the best we will have for some years to come.”
Brilliant Harry, brilliant, another perfect soundbite to motivate your young, English, academy players, of course we do have Marlon Harewood available for a low low price?
Aston Villa Team News:
So far no official team news, and no word on Wilf Bouma`s availability following his reserve team return. Martin Laursen is still the long term injury worry, aside from that it appears that Martin has a full compliment to choose from.
Obviously given our recent loan exits, Stuart Taylor, Osbourne and Barry Bannan are now unavailable.
Player to watch: Gabby Agbonlahor (Again again and once again!)
Gabby`s dry spell is rivaling that of Alcoholics Anonymous` top performer 2008, and he will continue to be watched by this preview as the one to watch, until he finally scores!
Spurs Team News:
Spurs are now without stars Giovanni Dos Santos and Adel Taarabt who have joined Ipswich and QPR on loan respectively. It appears that there`s a goalkeeping power struggle between new signing Carlo Cudicini and Heurelho Gomes with Harry Redknapp admitting he doesn`t have a number 1 (see the one to watch.)
Aside from that, I have no other team news; it will be updated as I get it, assuming Sunday does not bring a day of discussion with porcelain!
Player to watch: Spurs’ ‘Keeeper
Whoever plays in goal, Cudicini is a superb keeper and unlucky to have been ousted by what was an even better one at Chelsea in Petr Cech. Gomes can be anything from the sublime to the ridiculous, and peppering the Brazilian with shots from all angles, may well see him drop a clanger or two!
Muse, Knights of Cydonia – Live At Wembley 2007 – Brilliant!
Villa haven`t won in 6 matches, sort it out MON!
Harry Redknapp once played for what is now the newest MLS Major League Soccerball Franchise, the Seattle Sounders, this is also where he began his managerial career, as assistant head team go-team-coach in the North American Soccerball League.
The NASL, like the MLS, was great for attracting players at the end of their careers. Unlike the MLS however, such players included Pele, Beckenbauer, Banks, Eusébio, Beardsley.
Ignore that last one, the MLS of course has such stars as Kasey Keller, Juan Pablo Angel, Darren Huckerby and David Beckham (occaisionally.)
One man who`s played for both Villa and Spurs, is David Ginola, who can now be seen strutting his stuff in vineyards, Daveeeed is an award winning whiner, sorry, wine maker.
As Villa stride out onto the hallowed turf, the same day in 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev was elected the first executive president of the Soviet Union.
Gordon Bennett, it`s Steve Bennett, just the 1 red card and a horrendous 110 yellow cards in 30 matches. He even managed 9 yellow cards in a single game as Coventry fell victim to the pack of Wolves back in October.
It`s going to be tighter than Martin O`Neill on transfer deadline day. 1-0 to the good guys.
Lawro said we`d win, Fear and mug (I`m sure they are the same person) may be around later.
With no more cup involvement, the EPL fixtures are a little more stretched out. Villa face Liverpool (eek) away on the 22nd March.
Thanks for reading folks!