After a 3 game absence in which our magic roundabout that is defensive rotational policy have a gap wider than MC Hammer`s trousers and have shipped a whopping 11 goals, I have finally returned to actually write a preview.
Villa, on the back of an exciting 3-3 draw with Everton, look to get back to winning ways as they seek to cement their
Champions League Europa League spot. The opponents for Saturday`s cracker are none other than Calvin Gianfranco Zola`s West Ham side who have quietly snuck their way up the table after a reasonably dismal start.
I appear to be out of practice at this writing lark, I keep getting things factually incorrect. Nevermind.
It`s Aston Villa, it`s Wham, wake me up, so I can go-go! Preview!
I`m not giving Arsene Wenger any publicity this time around, as quite frankly he`s become a little too big for his boots now that his side are actually doing something useful.
An absolute corker however from David Moyes this week, and I`d fully expect him to be up in front of the Football Association at a greater speed than the average dodgily arranged Brawn GP car, criticism of the choice of referee for his sides` FA Cup tie against Manchester United:
“A member of the press asked me if Mike Riley is a Manchester United supporter – I think that is something you would need to bring up with the FA,’ Moyes told the official Everton website.
“It is something that one or two managers would have something to say about.”
The Villa Park PR department have been in absolute overdrive in the lead-up to the West Ham game, and so they flippin should be. It seems that the boys were buoyed by the support as Villa fired back from 3-1 down to snatch a point last week. Martin O`Neill has been in positive mode this week. He still, seemingly, believes that 4th spot is a possibility as he spoke to avfc.co.uk.:
“We have six games left and it’s going to be a tall order [ the elusive Champions League place].
“For us to have any chance, we can’t slip up now. It would certainly make it interesting if we went on an extended run. It’s up to us now. We need to turn our impressive performances into victories.”
Just a few weeks after heavily criticising the Claret & Blue faithful, Martin O`Neill now seems to be looking for the support of the Villa Park masses to boost the players spirits even further:
“The players are in good spirits and feel like a win is around the corner.
“They were so, so encouraged by the crowd staying with them for the whole of the game on Sunday.
“The crowd were absolutely phenomenal. They kept with the team and didn’t throw in the towel when they could easily have given up at various stages in the game.
“That was a source of genuine encouragement for me and the players.”
Meanwhile, the Villa striker in form John Carew is hoping he can continue knockin them in having scored 5 in the last 9 games. As he sneaks up the Premier League top goal scorer chart (currently topped by CSKA Chelski`s sulking supreme Anelka.) he told avfc.co.uk of his ambitions:
“It’s a great feeling and you always try to create chances and hopefully the ball goes in the net.
“Sometimes it goes in the net every time or you can have a period where it hits the goalpost and goes out but that’s life.
“I still have a big job to do. There are very important games coming up and I have to try and perform in the final games so we can make a difference and do something important.
“The most important thing for me is that we start winning games.”
Meanwhile, pint-sized manager Gianfranco Zola is yet another man in football that has completely shunned Vital Villa site editor Joanathan Fear. In his pre-match amble he said:
“When we played Villa at home we felt we were unlucky to lose. Maybe they are not as dangerous as they were at the beginning but they are still a team you have to treat with respect.
‘We will go there with no fear, that is for sure.”
At the time of going to press, Mr Football Reject J.Fear was unavailable for comment, having been ignored for the troublesome left-back-on-the-bench position by Villa.
Young defender James Tomkins, who played in the game at Upson Park believes his past experience of the 2-2 draw should stand him in good stead for the trip to Brum. The Englishman told the official WHAM! Website:
“If I play they have a lot of good players. I played against Villa at the end of last season so I can take that experience into Saturday’s game. That will help me.”
“It might be a good time to play them, but they are doing very well and they have a very good manager too. We’re in good form ourselves, though. We didn’t really deserve to lose at Spurs so we’re in high spirits and looking to get the three points.”
Personally I think young James will be grateful he may not have to face Emile Heskey, as the England international forward would have then had to be added to the risk assessments under “trip hazard.”
Aston Villa Team News:
Gabriel Agbonlahor, dubious goals and all is considered a major doubt with a hamstring injury no doubt made worse by the fact that he was played whilst suffering an illness, again.
There is an off-chance that Emile Heskey may well make it into the squad somehow; Sidders, Wilf, Curly and Martin Laursen are all out with long term injuries.
BBC report the squad as: Friedel, Guzan, L Young, Davies, Knight, Cuellar, Shorey, Milner, Petrov, Barry, A Young, Reo-Coker, Sidwell, Gardner, Agbonlahor, Heskey, Carew, Delfouneso, Sali. Salifooooooooooooouuuuuuuuuu
Player to watch: John Carew
The man in form, the true goal-threat we have other than Milly who seems to have had someone shout “WAKEY WAKEY!” down his earhole.
West Ham Team News:
Gianfranco is sweating on the fitness of Radoslav Kovac whose thigh injury may keep him out of the trip to Villa Park.
Scott Parker will have a fitness test to see if he is able to take any part. The forgotten man of English football perhaps a thorn in the side of the Stan/Gaz partnership should he be fit.
Player to watch: Robert Green
A remarkable keeper whose career has been tarnished by his ability to be a typical English keeper and make the kind of blunders the press will highlight time and time again.
Match Facts & Stats
Oh it had to be, it always has to be, it always will be. Sorry folks!
West Ham have the infamy of being legally challenged by Timmy Mallett. The club were looking to sell foam toys inspired by their mascot “Herbie the Hammer” however Timmy (seemingly his real name,) had trademarked the mallet “Pinky Punky” and therefore the club were unable to continue with their plans.
Mr Mallett now regularly appears in panto and various public appearances, once of which I missed whilst a student at Coventry University. I was gutted, honest.
It is rumoured that Emile Heskey has fallen over more times than I have had hot dinners. Martin O`Neill is said to be looking into how to have Emile`s roller-skates surgically removed.
This preview is potentially my worst yet, I`m sorry.
No need for gates, we have Rob Styles! Mr Styles is from Waterlooville. Lets hope he`s not toilet! Other than officiating games, he is a surveyor and seemingly kept himself on the level by issuing 94 yellow and 7 red cards in his 30 games this season. His last outing in a Villa tie, was our 0-0 home draw with Wigan.
3-1 Villa, we`re having this one. Carew with 2 and Nicky Shorey with the finishing touch.
Villa get back on the road next, a tricky tie to the Reebok stadium to face the ginger ninja`s Bolton Wanderers side. Perhaps we can persuade Gary Cahill to come back?