Sunderland 0-2 ASTON VILLA
Villa became only the second side this season to beat Sunderland at home in the league with another brilliant performance. Goals from Heskey and Milner were enough to see of the Black Cats while Richard Dunne bossed the likes of Darren Bent. No one put a foot wrong but special plaudits to Milner for capping another fine display with a fine goal.
STOKE 2-2 Wigan
In a game that will be remembered for Figueroa`s spectacular free kick, Stoke twice came back after conceding capped off by Villa old-boy Tommy Sorenson saving a Hugo Rodallega penalty late on in the game to claim a hard earned point.
It seems O`Neill has finally mastered the mantra that consistency wins games. The same team has now played the last four games and the last four games have now seen remarkable performances. See no reason why things should change now.
Defence: L. Young, Dunne, Warnock, Cuellar
Midfield: A. Young, Petrov, Milner, Downing
Up Front: Agbonlahor, Heskey
No fresh injury concerns for Pulis means he only has the suspension of Huth and the dilemma of whether to start Beattie to contend with. Should be a largely unchanged side to the one that drew with Wigan last weekend.
Defence: Wilkinson, Shawcross, Faye, Collins
Midfield: Lawrence, Whitehead, Delap, Etherington
Up Front: Fuller, Beattie
C. Gardner (back)
James Milner: Unquestionably the most in form player in the league. The World Cup hopeful is doing just about everything he can to not only guarantee his place in the squad next summer, but to earn a place in the starting XI. With his confidence sky high, he will be a massive threat to the Stoke back line with his deadly passing and (clinical?) finishing.
James Beattie: After the fallout of the row with manager Tony Pulis, surely the man has something to prove. Battling for a new contract the only place the striker can do his talking, is on the pitch. Only two league goals this term is not really a good bargaining tool and will looking to increase that number.
Martin O`Neill will be looking to notch up the fourth consecutive league win to take Villa fans into a very happy Christmas. In scintillating form, Villa haven`t conceded in their last three games to give them the joint best defence in the league with Chelsea & United.
Stoke have won only one of their last 7 matches and with last season`s games aside, Villa have an impressive record at home to Stoke, winning 34 out of 50 matches with 9 draws and 7 losses.
Villa should be far too strong for just about any team outside of the top 6 at the moment and I can only feel sorry for Stoke that they`re up next at Villa`s mercy.
A heavy score line should be on the cards and although maybe a bit adventurous, I have a feeling about this one
Prediction Aston Villa 4-0 Stoke City
You may as well forget Villa for the straight win as William Hill prices them at a measly 2/5. A Villa handicap of -2 is looking the better odds at 16/5.
Instead go for Villa leading at half time/full time with Milner to score at any time for roughly 6/1.
You may as well be printing money.
If you`d like to be more adventurous then Villa to win 4-0 is 16/1, and to win 3-0 is 7/1.
Think I might stick a cheeky fiver on Villa to win 4-0, half time/full time with Gabby to score first for a return of £120.