The irony, Roberto Martinez`s Wigan Athletic arrive at Villa Park today with the manager who looked primed and ready to fill the then vacant Villa Park managerial hot seat back in the summer.
The Spaniard was offered the job initially following Gerard Houllier`s mutual departure, but opted to turn down any such overtures in favour of staying in Wigan and be loyal to his chairman Dave Whelen.
Regardless of that, we did end up snaring one of their other prized assets in Charles N`Zogbia for £9.5m, but he has yet to show the Villa Park faithful the pedigree which made him a household name up north.
We came within two minutes of a massive away win last weekend only to be denied by an unfortunate own goal by Richard Dunne. In all honesty, on reflection, a point shared with Queens Park Rangers was a indeed a fair result – bearing in mind the abysmal display in the first-half where we hardly put two passes together.
The good news is both Darren Bent and Emile Heskey are back in contention after missing last weekend`s game. Heskey has been out for a number of weeks nursing a problem to his hamstring.
Manager Alex McLeish is determined to end the Wigan hoodoo tomorrow.
Amazingly we have NEVER beaten them at Villa Park in six years since they won promotion from the Championship.
Eck revealed his amazement at the statistic and is hoping t rectify it come tomorrow.
He told AVTV:
‘I am amazed by that statistic. I’d like to put that right.’
‘Some day Aston Villa will beat Wigan at home. Why can’t it be tomorrow?’
The Scot also revealed his frustration at not capitalising on our unbeaten start by racking up a few more points:
‘I am a bit frustrated because I felt our start could have been even better.’
‘But I am sure it will come with time because the players are gelling together.
‘It’s not an overnight job. It’s a brand new dawn and we’re now looking for our creative players to do the business for us.’
Meanwhile in the opposite camp, Roberto Martinez says he is not fazed by any negative reception he may receive from the Villa support:
‘I don’t expect any reaction from the Villa fans.’ he said.
‘I never wanted to leave any doubts. It was never a decision about moving to Aston Villa or another club. I am very privileged of being the manager of Wigan and working with the chairman we have, he is the best chairman in world football to work with.
‘It was clear; we had a three-year plan and it was down to him whether he wanted me to carry on doing that or not. The moment he decided he wanted me here there was not a decision to make. It wasn’t the right time for Wigan to have a change of manager. We need to give stability to our dressing room. It wasn’t about the other club or another project, it was about my chairman and Wigan and there wasn’t a decision to be made after that.
‘In football you never know what could have happened but what is quite clear is we are in a position where we have great potential in this squad and it is important we start working to achieve that.’
Aston Villa Team News:
Good news is that Bent and Heskey are back in the fold after their injury niggles.
ermain Jenas – remember him – may at last get his debut for the club after nursing a thigh strain, occurring from his first full training session at the club.
ames Collins will undergo a late fitness test after picking up an ankle problem at QPR last week.
Player to watch: Charles N’Zogbia
If there was ever a time for a player to come to the fore and put his doubters to the sword, then this is it for Charlie N`Zogbia.
Coming up against his former club, he will surely be in the mood to finally demonstrate his dazzling feet and put on a show for his new supporters.
Wigan Athletic Team News:
Antonin Alcarez and Emmerson Boyce are both out with leg injuries.
Star man Hugo Rodallega is indefinitely out and could face up to three months on the sidelines with knee ligament damage.
Player to watch: Franco Di Santo
It has took him long enough but at last the Argentine is beginning to find his feet in English football.
The 6ft4 striker has netted three times in five league appearances thus far and is beginning to orchestrate the attributes that lured him to Chelsea as a teenage prodigy.
He is big, powerful and a handful in the air. He will be used a battering ram within the heart of the Villa defence, particularly from set-pieces.
Match Facts & Stats
Villa have never beaten today’s opponents at Villa Park.
Wigan have won three and drawn three of their six league visits, conceding just two goals.
The club’s only home win against them came in a League Cup second round game in 1994 where we won 5-0.
Can only see us putting the hoodoo to bed with a comfortable 3-0 victory.
Wigan struggle to find goals as it is and with our defence looking to get back to its best, that task will be made or the more difficult for them.
Villa need to more potent up top and find some form in front of goal. A perfect opportunity to do so today.
Manchester City away on October 15th after the international break.