Steven Gerrard. There, now I have the attention of Fear`s lawyer, that`s one more person added to the list of those who have read my previews.
Aston Villa play their final fixture of a 2008 that has seen the club continue to build under the genius/luckiness/other (delete as your opinion dictates) of manager Martin O`Neill. Their opponents, a Hull City side that after an impressive start to their first ever foray in Premier League football, has started to wobble a bit, their 5-1 thumping at the hands of Abu Dhabi controlled Manchester City left the Tigers` squad out in the cold, literally.
The Villans meanwhile bounce into Kingston on the back of a 2-2 draw with Arsenal that left Wenger speechless but for the odd miserable word or two (mostly yes, and no) all thanks to a true Claret & Blue player, who`s swing and a hit was brilliant in all it`s “did I mean that” glory!
It`s Villa Vs Hull, goodbye 2008, bring on 2009, just if you wouldn`t mind, try not to mention the transfer window as it will undoubtedly send many a supporter stark raving mad.
Just for laughs, a quick question. Who said this:
“We will fight for the title and we believe we have a chance.”
The Villa boss Martin O`Neill has denied what many a supporter neutral and pundit a like are sure to be thinking, that the Boxing Day thumping of Phil Brown`s side will have a long lasting effect, and, it`s the best time for Villa to be facing them as they look to re-gain their 4th position in the league. He spoke to avfc.co.uk:
“People say it’s a good time to catch Hull but I certainly don’t see it like that.
“All I look at is the amount of points they have put on the board – and I think it is remarkable.
“They have been a great story this season. Their efforts have been absolutely remarkable.”
“The game will be very difficult. It makes me cringe when people say ‘there’s a game you should be winning.’ We shouldn’t be winning anything – we should be ‘trying’ to win football games against every team we face.
“People point to the Manchester City defeat during this festive period but a team on the rebound concerns me. It will be hard.”
Meanwhile, last-gasp goal scoring hero Zat Knight believes that the squad got exactly what they deserved post-Christmas, as their “never say die” spirit came to the forefront as he slotted home from 16 yards:
“We have a great fighting spirit. We believe we can beat anybody and we certainly felt we could get back against Arsenal – even when we did go two-down.
“We didn’t let our heads drop and we kept believing that we were good enough to get back in the match.
“Our first half performance showed what we were capable of because I thought we played some great football and created some really super openings.
“We didn’t panic when we conceded the second and continued to press for an opening. Gareth got us back in the game and thankfully, I popped up at the end with the equaliser.”
You have to love Zat`s honesty. He`s been out of favour at Villa for months, he`s a giant lumbering centre forward, who`s appearance at the opposite end of the pitch sparked an online forum debate as to whether O`Neill told him to, to control the ball and then slice it past a goalkeeper who had been in fine form throughout the match, and he says he “popped up at the end.”
Sitting on the other side of the fence, the now slightly warmer Phil Brown is still having to fend off questions about “that team talk.” Having obviously taken the example that Graham Taylor once set during his second spell at Villa (at least I think it was GT?) in having a 2 minute chat then sending the team out to warm up again, the Hull boss decided that there was no time to be wasted, and the proverbial rocket up his team`s collective backside needed to begin straight away.
Brown spoke to the BBC:
“I have got no regrets about it whatsoever. If it bruised one or two egos then so be it, although it wasn’t intended to be that way.
“We were embarrassed, but that wasn’t to do with the half-time dressing-down, it was the first-half performance.
“We didn’t bring our best game to the table and we got our comeuppance. We can’t allow that to happen ever again.”
Those who have followed the ins and outs of Villa will remember that we once previously had an American (kind of, he plays for Wales?) goalkeeper way before we could have ever dreamt that we`d have the powerhouse that is Brad Friedel between the pipes at Villa Park. Young Boaz Myhill, who looked to be a good prospect, however a succession of bad loans in which he played few, or even zero games, led the Villans to believe he wasn`t much cop, and was signed by Peter Taylor`s Hull side for a measley £50,000. Myhill has since allegedly been far from complimentary about Villa (I`m not surprised), despite rumours linking him with a return to the club that trained him up a few seasons back.
Well, Boaz has been having a cosy chat with the Hull City website about bouncebackability, and the like.
“You’ll know tonight what our reaction is,” he started with, clearly having been asked the most obvious question to any Hull City squad member for the moment.
“As professionals, we’re hell-bent on producing good performances and I think we’ve done that for the majority of the season. We didn’t do that in the first half against Manchester City.”
Turning his attention to his former employees, Myhill was as expected, up-beat:
“Having been an apprentice at Villa, this is the game I have been looking forward to the most. They’re all great games in the Premier League, but this is a special one for me.
“It will be a proud moment for me to play against them in the Premier League.”
Yeah, you show us, ‘Bo.`
City Hull Tigers Team News:
Hull look set to be boosted by the return of Welsh International bench-warming defender Sam Ricketts as he has now finished the suspension served for his sending off in the Tigers` 4-1 defeat at the hands of Sunderland just before Christmas.
According to Vital Hull, Anthony Gardner, Caleb Folan and Andy Dawson are the other absentees.
According to Murph, I`d be very surprised if the Hull boss doesn`t make a couple of changes from the side that was mowed down by Manchester City.
Player to watch: Geovanni
I wanted to say Nicky Barmby, but then realised that having been so sensible for the rest of this preview, nobody would take the second half of it seriously. Geovanni is clearly their danger man and one to definitely watch out for.
AVFC Claret & Blues Team News:
Well it`s been confirmed on the official club website that Carlos Cuellar will be out for approx. 2-3 weeks, a major blow adding to the defensive injury list that is starting to pile up. Cuellar joined Martin Laursen on the treatment table, no doubt boosting Wilf Bouma`s morale as he looks to continue his come back.
Expect Villa, as always to name an un-changed side from the previous one (as long as everyone remains fit) though I would quite like to see us give this crazy scheme a go.
Centre Backs: Centre Backs
Left Back: A left back, not a right back.
Right Back: A right back, not a right midfielder, or Craig Gardner, or Marlon Harewood. We`ve got one, he`s usually found on the other side of the pitch.
John Carew is still missing, it is unknown as to yet as to whether anyone has looked in his wardrobe for him, or under the bed, or in the rocket club.
Player to watch: Zatyiah Knight M’Lord
I always knew you were good Zat. Never doubted your talents, ever.
It`s that time again, time for some music that could be considered to have a topical theme by those who can work it out, its not difficult, see if you can guess what it is?
Hull City are based in the City that is Kingston-Upon-Hull. It has a formal twinning agreement with Freetown, Sierra Leone.
It also inspired the naming of a town in Massachusetts, which is also called, well, Hull.
I`ve run out of interesting things to say about Hull.
Nigel Reo-Coker was called up by the Sierra Leone FA to play for them, he didn`t go. Shame on you Nige!
The first meeting between Aston Villa and Hull City came way way way back in the 1907/08. The last league meeting that saw the two sides come together, Villa destroyed the Tigers 5-0 in 1988.
In 1982, Larry Walters tied 24 weather balloons to his lawn chair in Los Angeles and climbed to an altitude of 16,000 feet. There`s something new to try for those of us who still are yet to make New Years Eve plans.
The referee is Mr Steve Bennett who hails from Kent and seemingly, has an allergic reaction to red cards. In the two matches he has officiated that have involved Villa, he has managed to dish out 13 yellow cards. That`s just a small part of his 70 cards in 16 matches, with just 1 red, for Burnley`s Steven Thompson
Lawro says win, Fear, I mean, Mystic Mug will be along in a wee while to talk about it no doubt.
Meanwhile, I have a new, high-tech method of predicting the scores, replacing the old system of random guesswork and stupid 42-0 predictions, how daft was I to expect Salifou to score?
Using Fifa 09 and replicating the teams as best as possible, I will now hearby say that Villa will win 1-0, with Agbonlahor scoring the only goal of the game after hitting both posts and striking sweetly, third time lucky!
It`s cup time again, Villa have a tricky away tie in the FA Cup 3rd round against League Two side Gillingham on the 4th January.
Thanks for reading!