Friday, 3rd October
The aftermath of Thursday`s game is minimal. Essentially, everyone is looking to Sunday, and all the talk for Sunday`s game is of Chelsea`s injuries. We can only hope that all the rumours are true!
We also learn that three games in December have been moved for Sky coverage; away to Everton, at home to Arsenal and away to Hull. If Setanta pick the West Ham game, that`s all our away games in December that will be on TV. Not too shabby!
Saturday, 4th October
In irritating news, the M*rror reports that NRC is unhappy in Brum and wants to report to London. I`ll be honest with you, due to the source, I am not overly concerned. I will leave my thoughts on that publication there, as I do not want to get Vital Football into any trouble! Hopefully, NRC will come out and rubbish the rumours. If he doesn`t, or if it`s true, then get rid I say.
In better news, we`re making positive noises about Sunday. The truth is, we have good reason, given our performances against them in recent years. In addition, they also have these injury problems. Unfortunately, Scolari seems to be positive about some of his players; good record or not, any advantage we can take at the Bridge is very welcome. An added incentive is that if results go our way, we could be top of the league come full-time tomorrow.
Sunday, 5th October
I`m gutted. 2-0 doesn`t really reflect the game. The thing is, people will talk about how good Chelsea were, and that`s true. It`s also true we were poor. However, I think MO`N & co need to take some of the blame as well. Tactically, we were left wanting; there were large gaps between the defence, midfield and forwards. Barry and Petrov were left with a very difficult task, and to be honest it reminded me of a David O`Leary team. Overall it was a very, very disappointing afternoon.
Monday, 6th October
Still disappointed about the events of the previous day, I am pleased to see that Ashley Young has said he does want to sign a new contract, so it appears that it`s just a case of putting the final touches together. Good stuff.
Other than that, we look forward to tomorrow`s draw. It wouldn`t be easy whatever pot we were in, but being in pot 4 is slightly scary!
Tuesday, 7th October
NRC has rubbished the rumours that come out about him being unhappy. Good.
Also, Martin O`Neill has praised Gareth Barry, saying he is playing ‘better than ever`. Personally I disagree, but MO`N is renowned for his man-management skills and I will not complain about him praising anyone unless it is particularly ridiculous!
In addition, Steve Sidwell is back in full-training again, which is more good news. Where he`ll fit in I am not sure, but he is a good player and another option. Potentially, he is also the best goal-scorer of all the midfielders we have.
Anyway, the big news of the day is that, in Group F of the UEFA Cup, we are in there with Hamburg, Ajax, Slavia Prague and MSK Zilina eek! It`s pretty tricky. With the top 3 qualifying it is ‘do-able`, but it will be something that will not be easy.
The fixtures come out later in the day and show that our home games are Ajax and Zilina. I think, given the choice, a lot of people may have selected that. Although Hamburg are the better side at the moment, Ajax IS the glamour match, and it will be pretty cool when they arrive at Villa Park. Zilina could be a tricky away day but you feel we should dispose of them at Villa Park if we play somewhere near to our best. The two away days are a tad intimidating though; Slavia Prague will be very tricky and Hamburg away, being the last game, is not a fixture that I would want us to need to get something from.
It`s exciting though aint it! Bring it on!
Wednesday, 8th October
The UEFA fixtures have lead to certain games being moved. Away to Wigan and home to Middlesborough are both put back 24 hours.
With international fixtures looming, there is an injury concern about John Carew for Norway, but he has pledged to be fir for the Scotland game.
Oh, and in personal news, I got my Wigan away tickets!
Thursday, 9th October
Martin O`Neill has said that the international break will be good for the people NOT involved, in particular Ashley Young. I agree wholeheartedly! I am absolutely positive that Ashley would rather be with England – as would Luke Young, Nicky Shorey, Curtis Davies and Nigel Reo-Coker – but the fact is that a break will do them good before another fixture explosion.
In other news, James Milner has said he is happy on the bench for now (in all fairness, which player has deserved to be dropped?) and that the top 4 is still a possibility. I think the Chelsea game has knocked the stuffing out of us a bit, but we HAVE to keep on believing. After all, if we don`t believe we can get 4th, then realistically we wont even get 5th or 6th.
In weak transfer news, a couple of websites have us linked with Barnsley ‘wonder-kid` Reuben Noble-Lazarus.
Finally, I also got my wish – West Ham has been picked by Setanta, so every away game in December will be on telly. Merry Christmas everyone!
The Week In Villa #7 (3/10/08 – 9/10/08)
Friday, 3rd October