Date: 4th January 2008 at 4:41pm
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Aston Villa make their 2007/08 BBC TV debut as they play Manchester United in the 3rd round of the FA Cup for the second season in a row.

Villa go into the match on a high following victories against Wigan and Spurs, whilst Manchester United may welcome back Gary Neville as they look to improve on last year’s FA cup runners up spot.

Even before a ball is kicked in anger there is an event for all Villa fans to saviour, as the club honour the team that last won the FA Cup for the club in 1957, beating Manchester United. Nigel Sims, Peter McParland and Jackie Sewell will all be in attendance, and presented to the claret and blue faithful before the game gets underway.

Full preview as per usual, with an FA Cup twist from Vital Villa!

Vital Quotes:

Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill has called for his squad to play with confidence and heart, as they go into a match that few neutrals would be expecting them to win.

Speaking to O’Neill said:

‘We are playing with confidence, desire and a bit of heart. And we are looking forward to the game.

‘We will try to get the crowd behind us. We will play the game positively, which we try to do anyway.

‘I think United will be set up as strong as they possibly can be, and that means we will have some very good players up against us. But we will give it our best.

‘The Villa supporters have done us proud this season, no question. And the players have responded with big performances. And the heart they have shown and the ability has been a fine combination.’

Villa forward Gabriel Agbonlahor, who is looking to impress the watching England boss Fabio Capello wins the ‘duff quote of the week award’ for his suggestion that it would be a bad idea for Villa to score the first goal in the match:

‘We get on top of them last time, but against those teams, I don’t think it’s good to score the first goal,’ he told the official website.

‘I think we got them angry and they came back at us! We’ve got to go out and do what we did against Tottenham and Chelsea and get at least a replay out of it.’

There’s positivity for you, nice one Gabby.


On the flip side, Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney believes the United squad is strong enough to fight on all fronts this season.

Rooney spoke to bbc sport:

We’re enjoying our football and we just want to win trophies.

‘We’ve definitely got the talent, so I hope we can do that, but we’re still learning and I think we’re getting better each year.’

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been in a foul mood regarding his supporters already this year. I’m not surprised he’s a bit of a grump after the Christmas party fiasco.

Following United’s 1-0 victory over Birmingham City Ferguson said:

‘The crowd was dead. It’s the quietest I’ve heard them here. It was like a funeral, it was so quiet. We needed the crowd today. It’s all right saying the players will make the fans respond, but in some situations, like today, we need them to get behind us.

‘We’ve played game after game in this period and in these moments we need a lift.’

To be fair Sir Alex, even from my limited experience of watching Birmingham City, they do tend to send you to sleep. Why do you think Villa keepers gone by have made errors, it wakes the crowd up!*

(*That’s my story and I’m sticking to it)

Aston Villa Team News:

Aston Villa are sweating on (yes again) the fitness of striker John Carew who has not featured since his injury in the 11th minute of Villa’s 2-1 victory over Wigan Athletic.

BBC are suggesting that Shaun Maloney will be preferred to Luke Moore as Villa look to go 4-5-1, obviously as a move to try and win the game.

Sky Sports reported Shaun Maloney today as the 2nd top goal scorer when charted against minutes on the pitch. That would suggest he deserves the nod over Luke ‘4 shots, 4 off target’ Moore.

Player to watch: Scott Carson

Last time Carson played Manchester United he conceded 3 goals and then decided to use both feet to try and tackle a player in the box earning him an early bath, leaving reserve keeper Stuart Taylor to save the subsequent penalty.

If there was ever a time where we needed a reported £10million goalkeeper, it will be on Saturday evening.

Manchester United Team News:

Manchester United welcome back Edwin Van Der Sar for selection following his recovery from a groin injury.

Paul Scholes and Gary Neville may also return for United however Carlos ‘dummy sucker’ Tevez will miss out following the heavy bruising he received against West Ham.

Player to watch: Christiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo scares me every time he picks the ball up and our defenders will have to be 100% on the top of their game in order to keep him quiet.

Whilst unethical, may I suggest a yellow card for Reo-Coker to give the Portuguese ‘winker’ a sly kick early on?

Match Facts & Stats

  • This is the second year in a row that Aston Villa and Manchester United have faced each other in the 3rd round of the F.A. Cup.

  • Villa should have been facing their retirement home, Middlesbrough, but that’s another story.

  • The last time Aston Villa won the F.A. Cup, they defeated Manchester United 2-1 in 1957 with both goals coming from Peter McParland.

  • McParland’s task was made an easier one after he managed to break the jaw of, and knock out United keeper Roy Wood.

  • In a move you’d never see in today’s namby-pamby, pry pre-madonna , baby Bentley world, Wood returned to the match following basic treatment to play on initially on the wing for the reds before moving back to the keeper role later.

  • Aston Villa’s Charlie Wallace was the first player to miss a penalty in an FA Cup final in 1913.

    Ref Watch:

    The referee for the match is Mr Martin Atkinson.

    Mr Atkinson has managed 60 yellow and 4 red cards in his 20 matches this season.

    The last time he officiated a game involving Aston Villa, he booked Ashley Young as Villa drew 1-1 away to Bolton Wanderers.

    Match Prediction:

    1-0 win for the Villa with Martin Laursen proving the hero!

    Next Fixtures:

    Following our FA Cup forray Villa return to league action with a home match against Reading on the 12th of January. Kick-off for that one is 1500hrs!