Right, I’ll hold my hands up to this, I don’t fancy us for this tie. City did the double over us last year and I think Pearce has got them well organised this year. Villa just aren’t clicking at the moment, there is something amiss and unless O’Leary has found the answer this week, I think this is one away trip too far. I’m not being pessimistic as some say, just trying to show some realism, we have lost 8 of our last 13 Prem games. Our away form is dire and our home form this season hasn’t been much better – bearing in mind this is our worst ever start to a Premiership campaign. Still, just as you start to give up on the team, they often pull out a surprise victory, so if you have any, put your lucky pants on!
DOL says: ‘I’ve been speaking to Darius and he sounds really good. He sounds like the lad who, when the move came up, said he wanted a change. He felt he needed that change after so many years. He had good people looking after him and they felt the same way and I’m glad it has worked out for him because he is a lovely boy with a lovely talent. I agreed with him and felt a change would do him the world of good.’
Pearce says: ‘One of the big disappointments for me this season is I have never had all four strikers fit at the same time. It would have been nice to have them all putting pressure on each other but it has not happened.’
Manchester City Team News:
Cole and Thatcher could return. Fowler and Bradley Wright-Phillips are also in contention. Richard Dunne (knee), Nedum Onouha (groin), Claudio Reyna (knee and ankle) and Trevor Sinclair (knee) are all out with injuries. (from): James, Weaver, Mills, Distin, Sommeil, Richards, Jordan, Thatcher, Sun, Croft, Barton, Ireland, Musampa, Hussein, Sibierski, Cole, Vassell, Miller, Fowler, Wright-Phillips.
Player to watch: Darius Vassell
Vassell in his first game against his former club. Bound to score isn’t he? Well, not if Mellberg has anything to do with it!
Aston Villa Team News:
Baros is still not fit for selection thanks to an Achilles injury. Bouma still has a hamstring pull so will miss the game, Hendrie has a knee injury and Laursen is out all season. Jlloyd is expected to play on despite a shoulder injury and Hughes faces a late fitness test on his hernia problem. (from): Sorensen, Taylor, Hughes, Delaney, Mellberg, Ridgewell, Samuel, Milner, Berger, Bakke, McCann, Davis, De La Cruz, Jumper Jumper, Barry, Phillips, Angel, Moore.
Player to watch: James Milner
I could keep saying Phillips; but this time I’ll go for Milner. Can he inspire the team with another gritty performance?
Match Facts & Stats
Villa are 16th with 10 points.
Best case: 14th. Worst case: 17th.
Away Form League: 15th with 1 win, 1 draw, 3 losses.
Form League: 19th
Last six: L D L L W L
Man City are 8th with 17 points.
Best case 4th (or unrealistically 3rd on goal difference if they give us a whopping). Worst case 8th.
Home Form League: 5th with 3 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss.
Form League: 12th
Last six: D L L W W L
Last Season: Manchester City 2-0 Aston Villa
(Macken 29, Shaun Wright-Phillips 38)
Record in Premiership: Man City 7 wins, Villa 3 wins, Draws 6.
Prem record at City: Man City 5 wins, Villa 1 win, Draws 2.
Dermot Gallagher. 4 matches, 2 reds, 10 yellows.
Mystic Mug says enough of the early season optimism, now for the truth! Away loss. 2-0. Come on you Villa boys, prove the doubters wrong!
26/11/05 CHARLTON ATHLETIC