The Vital Villa Preview feature returns with a bang! Well, not with a bang, more a middle of the road, distinctly average, mediocre kind of performance that leaves the fans bemused.
The last time I put pen to screen, I broke my laptop, but the last time I wrote a preview for this great website was the opening day of the season. A season of hope, of expectation, of the unknown twists and turns. Just what would Alex McLeish bring to the party I heard everyone cry?
We drew 0-0.
It seems that the results this season for the AVFC Claret & Blues has seen a downturn in happiness amongst the Villa faithful, so I felt obliged to make an attempt to restore some of the faith, the pride, the hope and humour to the average “Villan.”
Wigan to many an Aston Villa supporter is a favourite away day because it`s (a) cheap, (b) not that far away, (c)the home fans are crap, (d) we all love pies.
It could have been a different story for the Wigan manager Roberto Martinez had he departed the JJB/DW Stadium for Birmingham. I do wonder if the Spaniard has contemplated whether or not life really was greener on the other side, with the North-West side propping up the league in last place.
Alex McLeish will be desperately needing a win in Lancashire in order to calm some of the panic that has set in, with Villa sliding the wrong way in the table stakes, joining English powerhouse clubs such as West Brom, QPR and Stoke.
Fear not though, and try to ignore The Fear.
It`s Aston Villa
It is Wig-wam
If I had my way
They`d sell pies with SPAM!
The traditional Vital Villa preview quiz returns. Who said this, following criticism from his predecessor and a former club favourite and indeed ex-Villa manager!
‘I do not need to respond to every single opinion.”
If only said person wouldn`t respond to every contentious decision with “I didn`t see ..”
Bluenose Villa manager Alex McLeish, fresh from his trip to the United States to discuss coaching techniques with NFL disasters the Cleveland Browns, has been discussing the departing Robbie Keane, and has been hinting that Saturday`s game may not be the last for the Irishman in an Aston Villa shirt. Speaking to avfc.co.uk the wee boss said:
‘Maybe he could do us a favour next year again. He’s been very good and I have enjoyed working with him. His infectious enthusiasm is there for everyone to see.”
‘But he has also brought his skills to the club – his ability with the ball, his finishing, and I know he would like to have seen us getting even better results.
‘That’s the measure of the guy, he’s never satisfied, he’s a top pro.”
Another one for the hit-list, and Big Eck has been busy this week, is to try and goad on-off winger Charles N`Zogbia into the kind of performances that saw him dragged away from the dour, drab atmosphere that is Wigan Athletic. Again the manager spoke to avfc.co.uk!
‘Charles has worked really hard over the past few weeks,’ said McLeish. It is best not to question what parts the Scotsman was on about in this interview, however:
“‘He has a programme in the gym working on other parts of the body with Adrian and he’s really applied himself well.
Must admit it`s been more Insomnia than N`Zogbia this season, perhaps now he`s had his other body parts worked on by Adrian, we`ll see a vast improvement?
On the flippy-floppy side of Charles N`Zogbia`s other parts, Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is fearful of the new body-parted Frenchman! Martinez had to say goodbye to his talisman as Villa were successful in a £9.5million bid for the winger, and his former employer is now concerned about the match winning ability of his former friend, now foe!
Oh and the fact that both teams need some b****y points!
‘What is clear is the class of Charles is permanent and he is a special player.
‘We have great memories of him as a Wigan player and I hope he keeps those memories for the rest of his career.
‘But Saturday is about two teams who really need points and from our perspective is a crucial game. We have seven games left at home and the start of that is vital.
Any individual issues will be in the background, I don’t think many people will focus on that bearing in mind it is such an important game.’
Will be interesting ot see what happens, with the Villans squad taking it easy in the UK and Wigan bizzarely deciding that the Sultanate of Oman was the perfect warm-weather training destination (what`s wrong with Tenerife?)
Wigwam Piemen Team News:
According to the bastion of all sports based truth, Kamui Kobayashi was fastest in the latest round of F1 testing in Spain
and this is why tabbed browsing sucks.
According to the BBC, striker Callum McManaman is available again after recovering from a back injury and midfielder Mohamed Diame has returned from the African Cup of Nations, so it is a full strength squad for Saturday!
Player to watch: Stephen Warnock
Erm, er..hmm, um? According to Vital Wigan James McArthur has been doing quite well.
If he plays, expect Villa left-back Stephen Warnock to star for Wigan.
AVFC Claret&Blues Team News:
Mat Kendrick over at the Birmingham Mail has suggested that Aston Villa have some “confidential” injury worries ahead of this game including Marc Albrighton and Barry Bannan (as confidential as something sent to Wikileaks I guess!) Mr Bannan had mentioned a sore ankle on Twitter.
Gabby Agbonlahor looks set to be fit to return to the squad, Richard Dunne and Ciaran Clark are out. After impressing in the 4-1 thrashing of West Brom`s reserves, Eric Lichaj and Andreas Weimann will no doubt be pushing for involvement!
Player to watch: Robbie Keane
Goodbye Robbie, sorry we didn`t sign you years ago. Go have a little adventure playing Sunday League standard football in the States, then come back to us in the summer yeah?
I have it on good authority now that Wigan is not in Lancashire, but in Greater Manchester. I don`t know which is worse.
After some extensive research (Wikipedia) to find some Wigan-related music appropriate to the game, I could only suggest that Aston Villa need to wipe the slate clean, to perhaps clear up some mess. Take a good look at themselves through some clean glass. Take it away, Wigan born
After giving up music, George Formby took up boxing, winning the World Heavyweight Championship twice and more recently, launching a series of low-fat grills.
When I`m cleaning windows!
In Wigan, there is a museum of Wigan life. Essentially it is an interactive environment, you drink lots of ale with a kestrel on your arm, then you chase an egg for a bit. It has been open since 1878, gotta feel sorry for the staff!
Wigan has a couple of rugby teams. For the uneducated, rugby is where a lot of grown up men run into each other, touching often, before retiring to the bar to throw up into pint glasses.
It`s nice to be back!
(Oh apparently it`s the League Cup Final on Sunday)
Friend!!!!! Kevin Friend is the referee for this weekend`s game. Mr Friend`s best friend is clearly the yellow card, dishing out a whopping 72 in just 21 games. That said, it appears that Premier League referees now give out cards for fun,.
Sod anything Lawro said, or Mystic Mug, here are the facts so get down the bookies! Villa to win 9-0. Heskey and Zoggy hat-tricks, Guzan, Given and Cuellar with the other 3.
Villa stay on the road with a trip to Blackburn Rovers on the 3rd of March.
Thanks for reading all!