Date: 28th November 2007 at 11:55am
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Aston Villa and Martin O’Neill come across a familiar face in Gobbie Cabbage once more as they look to make it four wins in four matches against a Blackburn Rovers side that have impressed in a similar fashion of late. Full match preview, to you, now, from Vital Villa!

Vital Quotes:

Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill has told of his respect for opposite number Mark Hughes, who has been seen as a potential suitor for the England managers post. Talking to avfc.co.uk O’Neill said: ‘I think he has been really terrific. I know that the Welsh players thought a great deal of him when he was doing the Wales job. He was a really great player, a class player. Our paths never crossed but I think he is really good.’

‘They have done really terrifically and Mark Hughes deserves whatever accolades are flying around about him.’


So, I think it’s fairly settled that Martin O’Neill has respect for the former Manchester United player!

The blossoming strike partnership of John Carew and Gabriel Agbonlahor have certainly had a lot to say on the pitch of late, and replicate that in giving their views on the Blackburn match to the official site.

Big John on the game: ‘It will be a difficult match, but we’re confident that we can go there and take three points.

‘They are a very good side and are more or less in the same place as us in the table. So they are direct opponents, but we still believe in our chances to win the game.’


Speedy Agbonzales: ‘Blackburn are the sort of team we’re aiming to be like. They’re playing in Europe and in the top half of the table again this season. That’s what we’re aiming for.

‘If we can get something out of the game tonight, I think it will be a big result for us – possibly one of our biggest results of the season.’


*****

Blackburn boss Mark Hughes (respect!) has highlighted the combination of pace and power throughout the Villa side as being a major issue for his players, however is confident that they can come out on top: ‘Villa are playing well and have a good threat up front with John Carew, who is a handful, and a lot of pace in and around him. They are nice and solid at the back as well.

‘But our home form has been great this season and it is key to us having a good season.

‘If we can keep getting maximum points at home we will do that and now we have three home games back to back.’

Blackburn Rovers Team News:

Blackburn welcome back just about everyone that was out injured this week, as long term Villa-linked striker Benni McCarthy returns to the fold.

Also vying for first team places are danger-man Roque Santa Cruz and Matt Derbyshire.

David Dunn, made famous by *that* Sky advert returns from a suspension.

Blackburn Squad: Friedel, Brown, Emerton, Nelsen, Samba, Ooijer, Warnock, Berner, Dunn, Bentley, Pedersen, Santa Cruz, McCarthy, Derbyshire, Tugay, Roberts, Reid, Mokoena, Khizanishvili, Treacy.

Player to watch: Morten Gamst Pedersen

Apparently Gamst Pedersen hasn’t been doing too well of late, and like so many out of form players in the Premiership will no doubt sort his life out in time for the visit of Aston Villa.

That said, if Blackburn don’t want him, can we have him on a free transfer please?

You can even have The Incredible Sulk in return, Blackburn of course being closer to Glasgow than Birmingham is.

Talking of homesickness, there’s a Blackburn player who swapped clubs to be apparently closer to his homeland, ending up almost as far away!

I’ll give you a clue:

He whinges, he complains, he kicks people, he falls over, he irritates referees…

…Dion Dublin finally shut him up!

If he gets on the pitch expect the usual from Savage, let’s hope someone can keep him quiet for the evening.

Aston Villa Team News:

Villa look set to name an un-changed line-up to the team that rolled over Middlesbrough at the weekend.

Everyone is fit and healthy apart from Marlon Harewood, who appears to be suffering from a severe case of absentitis, or he’s injured. Nobody seems to have heard from him recently.

Villa Squad: Carson, Taylor, Sorensen, Mellberg, Laursen, Knight, Davies, Bouma, Petrov, Reo-Coker, Barry, Young, Berger, Osbourne, Agbonlahor, Carew, Moore.

Player to watch: John Carew

Carew scored a brilliant goal against Middlesbrough though admittedly the defender could have done far far better.

The start of things to come for Carew and Villa? I hope so!

Match Facts:

If Marlon Harewood scores, it will be his 100th league goal of his career.
(Assuming O’Neill can remember where he put him!)

If your a substitute goalkeeper for Blackburn Rovers, don’t expect much action as American stopper Brad Friedel will be making his 160th consecutive appearance for Rovers. No wonder we see nothing of Encks!

It’s Stuart Taylor’s birthday! His present is to travel to the North where the weather is currently ‘rubbish’ and warm up the subs bench.

Blackburn are one of only 3 of the founding members of both the Football and Premier Leagues, the other two being tonight’s visitors Aston Villa, and Everton.

Ref Watch:

The referee for tonight’s match is none other than Mr P.Dowd!

Mr Dowd last took charge of an Aston Villa match as the Villans managed an impressive 0-0 draw with Chelsea.

Impressive on account that keeping goal for Villa that day was now-Burnley goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly!

Match Prediction:

A hard fought 2-1 victory for Villa on the road tonight.

Carew and Gabby the goalscorers.

Next Up:

After Blackburn, Villa return home for the December 1st visit of le Arse!