Preview from regular contributor ‘villaman42’ the last paragraph I disagree with but will be irrelevant as a victory is assured !
This Sunday marks a big day for Aston Villa Football Club and despite some people claiming it be, I do not see this as a game that is a must win claiming that whoever loses will go down. No doubt this is a big game but both teams can easily stay in this League, after Sunday, win, lose or draw, we will still have 16 games to get ourselves out of trouble. The good news for Villa however is that the majority of those fixtures are games we should win.
Moving onto the Birmingham game though and Alex McLeish will play a solid team. The bad news is Lee Bowyer is back from suspension. The good news is they are missing Scott Dann and Ben Foster’s confidence has been rocked from the League Cup Semi Final 1st Leg. Villa injuries news sees Luke Young miss out again with an ongoing knee injury and Emile Heskey will miss out through suspension along with Ashley Young. The good news for Villa though is that Fabian Delph could return to the squad.
Aston Villa go into the game looking for revenge after Birmingham’s lucky win over us in the cup when we had winning goals from Ashley Young and Stephen Ireland cleared off the line twice only for Blues to run down the other end and have Zigic’s shot hit the floor, deflect off L.Young’s leg, looping up over Friedel (who did get a touch) but just couldn’t keep it out. However tommorow is a different story; for that game we had Petrov, Delph, NRC, Heskey, Albrighton and Weimann all out injured. Also Collins (Calf), Carew (Knee), Cuellar (Knee) and Agbonlahor (Knee) were not fit to play, neither was Stephen Ireland who was ill all week leading up to the game but all were still named in the 18 simply because they had to be.
This time Albrighton plays Blues for the first time, Clark is back in midfield, Petrov and NRC are back, Collins, Cuellar and Dunne are back to full fitness and Weimann, Delph and Gary Gardner should all come into consideration having all impressed recently.
The Villa lineup will be a tricky one, Houllier said he ‘hoped’ Carew would be fit to face Birmingham but it would be a surprise to see him start considering he didn’t feature for the reserves in their incredible 10-1 over Arsenal. But then again neither did Warnock, Beye, Ireland or Delph. The one thing you can be sure on however is that this is a time that Villa go to St Andrews for the first time this year confident of a win because we have options this time. We could go 442 with Carew coming back in, or we could go 4411 with Ireland replacing Ash, although neither of those are expected. The starting 11 really does rest on one question, is Makoun going to be available for the game? My predicted line up would be as follows:
Bench: Marshall, Lichaj, Collins, Gardner, Bannan, Fonz, Carew,
Should Makoun not make it then it would most likely be Barry Bannan starting the game in his place but I do not see Carew starting the game, although I hope I am wrong because I really think with Dann out that it is the perfect game to bring him back into. Agbonlahor and Carew V Johnson and Ridgewell is a miss match and one central defense that Villa would easily cause a lot of problems.
The need for points at Villa is massive at the moment but I do not see this as a must win because with so many easy fixtures still to come we can and will easily climb away from this position, I’m thinking about Europe, not relegation! This will be a big game for both clubs but Villa need to focus and put 120% effort into it otherwise we know exactly what will happen. We need to focus for the full match, not drop off towards the end like against Chelsea. Keep a clean sheet and win the derby and I dare anyone to say Villa will not go on a run after it because we will!
One final thought, with Ashley Young out I don’t know how many Villa fans are pleased with that news but in a way, I am. Ashley Young has been playing in the hole all season and apart from half an hour or so against WBA I can’t think of one game that he has done well in that position. Lee Bowyer would force Ash off the ball too much in the Derby Sunday but it seems Houllier unfortunately doesn’t see Ash as a winger. Maybe he will improve there with Makoun in meaning Ash doesn’t have to drop deep so much to pick the ball up and help out and so will have a free attacking role from now on but against Blues I don’t see Ashley Young having a good game, if he was out wide I would be saying different but in the middle? Not for me.
Let’s hope we get 3 points then, Houllier has a great record for Derby games, so do Villa, we have so many players back now and so many Villa fans in the lineup (so you can count on the lads being up for this one!) Remember although we lost in the cup we did outplay them! We can win this, we will win this and with the noses not even willing to go with FREE tickets their crowd will be poor where as we will be rocking! UTV!
(Reminder – If by some absolute fluke Blues somehow manage to beat us again, a message to all the ‘Houllier Out’ people. Kyle Walker and now hopefully Jean Makoun coming in, the man clearly has sense and clearly is doing good for the club. If we play extremely poor then do what you like but if we play well and lose then don’t start slating Houllier because he does seem to be putting everything into Villa and I think he will succeed. Just look at the fixtures left and realise that the majority of the hard games are gone and we will survive).