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Pivotal Week In Villa Life

Martin O'Neill has called this week a potentially pivotal few days in our season as we entertain Boro and Pompey with only a few hours in reality between them.

I would've mixed this article into the former MON one if I'd realised, but rather than talking generally about our hopes for the season this one probably deserves it's own slot given the content anyway.

Speaking on the official site O'Neill has previously commented on the wonders of taking the mid seasonish break to recharge batteries and the benefits of giving players bulk time off when no games are scheduled, but here he talks about the downside of missing games and then being in a position of playing catchup.

Over a 3 day period this week we face a Boro team who will be determined to put their Cup nightmare behind them, and then a Pompey team who are probably still merry after their fantastic win over the whingers from Manc Land.

'It's a massive week. We've got two games in three days and I think it's a very important time for us.

'Everything's important anyway, but it's magnified now because we don't have the time or the games to put it right if it goes wrong.

'Whereas before if it was mid-season, you think 'oh well' and move to the next game and put it right. Now it's down to the real crunch time - we've got 10 games left and we need to win quite a few of them.'

There probably isn't a worse time to play both teams. Boro will be looking to bounce back and Pompey have b een on form and dangerous all season, so with the boost of confidence they will now have we will certainly have a struggle on our hands.

Ideally we want to be taking 6 points. Realistically I don't see at this stage that 4 points would be enough to keep in the Euro hunt. 2-3 points only certainly isn't with the 8 point gap.

'Is it potentially pivotal? I do feel it's a very important week in terms of our hopes because after we play Portsmouth, we're down to eight games. And while there are still 24 points available from eight games, it becomes less room for error.'

Speaking about the break in true MON style lots will see this as him giving the team an out if things go wrong - I somehow doubt he has been making the same comments to them!

'The negative about the break is that teams were given a chance to get ahead of us. Psychologically it can be better if you're not playing catch-up all the time.

'But at the same time I don't think we can worry too much about what's happening elsewhere. So I'm not overly concerned about it.

'The one issue is that after a break we've now got two games in three days. But I suppose we should be fresher than Middlesbrough, who were in FA Cup action.

'The fact is that the break couldn't be avoided and therefore we've just got to deal with it.'

It's going to be a fun packed final 10 games isn't it boys and girls!

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The Journalist

Writer: Mike Field Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday March 10 2008

Time: 3:11PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
I think this is the make or break week for us. That 8 point gap is going to look massive if we fail to beat Boro. Pompey away is always a tough game but we are so good on the break I do think we can win there.
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10/03/2008 15:30:00

We don't need to worry about you lot anymore, the title is on its way to goodison. 10 behind arsenal and still play them at goodison.... lol. What a day the last day would be, sending newcastle down and winning the league, it can't get much better than that
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10/03/2008 15:32:00

I'd agree with you on some points evertonmike. mainly the newcastle going down part. if liverpool do you and you go out of europe it could be a different story though. it aint over until the fat lady sings. in may.
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10/03/2008 15:41:00

Seeing the toon go down would be the highlight of my football supporting career. Never met a bunch of arrogant supporters so difficult to get on with.
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10/03/2008 15:59:00

I obviously don't think we'll win the league, but if we go on a run now we could very realisticly end up 5 ish points off top. Which would be fantastic for a club with our spending power.
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10/03/2008 16:27:00

Hope you don't get into Europe Mike, your Champs league exploits of a couple of years back was nothing short of embarrassing. Your good run has come to an end with the curse of the Manager of the month award. Rather see anyone there than the "2 player team" that is Liverpool though.
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10/03/2008 16:35:00

It looks like 5th place is only availble spot for a uefa place. Here at Pompey we doubt whether we would catch the scouse pair even if wanted. However as we have the FA Cup to worry about, you might find our league form drift somewhat. Making your visit to FP a bit easier than normally expected.
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10/03/2008 17:07:00

next two games will certainly shape our season for sure.
The Fear
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10/03/2008 17:20:00

a win agaisnst boro is a must, they are low on form at the moment, pompey aint any good at home, so 6 points would see us close the gap a bit, just gotta keep winning, 1-0 or 6-5's doesnt matter get the points
Report Abuse
10/03/2008 17:57:00

Yes our champs league exploits were for sure embarrassing you clown, losing thanks to having a perfectly good goal ruled out, against a side who got to the semis, how did you manage to live with the shame? OK the UEFA cup run after that wasn't so great, but CL wasn't embarrassing, not at all. Idiot.
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10/03/2008 17:57:00

I wouldnt say it was embarrassing just inexperience in europe at the time let you down and the draw. Chill evertonmike!
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10/03/2008 18:07:00

Now that 6th place is gone, realistically we need to win every game!
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10/03/2008 18:14:00

I find it an utterly ridiculas comment, embarrassing to unluckily lose to a semi finalist in the competition. Apologies for childish insults.
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10/03/2008 18:15:00

evertonmike you go have a drink and a cigar and chill out, wouldnt like to meet you in a pub, get wound up if anyones says anything disrespectful about everton, love not war
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10/03/2008 18:23:00

Yeah Mike sorry I forgot, you Scousers don't get embarrassed that easy. You have to put up with that accent, Phil Neville on your team and I can only think how much spit is on your monitor after you started shouting at the computer when you saw my jovial banter which wasn't meant to offend. Looks like the pressure is getting to you from being in such a high place in the league ;-D. May the best team win the race to 4th and 5th ( as long as it isn't boring red Scouse I don't care. ) Now stop using the internet or I will get the social on to you about that dodgy claim you giroclaiming scrounger.
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10/03/2008 18:23:00

Only just saw your last post Mike so I concur with the apologies. As I said, may the best team win the race. 27th Apr will be the telling point for both of us.......
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10/03/2008 18:27:00

Your right i do get wound up easily when fans produce moronic statements. Perhaps you were joking, but there ARE people on vital that do believe that we embarrassingly went out in the CL, to a very good team thanks to a refereeing decision i just find it utterly bizzare to look at it that way. Childish insults were pointless and unjust though, and i do apologise for that. As for our game in april, i think we will finish above you if we avoid defeat, and contrary to certain beliefs our good run isn't ending, some games you will have to grind out, and 3 points up at sunderland is difficult to get.
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10/03/2008 18:34:00

yeah it was a good result against sunderland, I feel that you been on a good run and every team has a dip in form i.e. villa against fulham, here's hoping you do slump, no disrespect, might come down to the game at goodison, could be a decider in a way
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10/03/2008 18:36:00

we may well slip up next game at fulham, we NEVER win down there.
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10/03/2008 18:38:00

here's hoping! lpool for some reason have decided to start winning which is annoying me, I realy do hope everton get fourth if villa have no chance, any team but liverpool for fourth just break that monopoly up
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10/03/2008 18:41:00

Bolton, boro, west ham and newcastle they beat recently. I'd be gutted if everton dropped a point against any of them! I'm not worried about what they do, i think we'll win at anfield.
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10/03/2008 18:46:00

ha ha fair enough, they gotta meet some of the bigger teams so they may come unstuck, could be a false position, torres has become prolific, but agaisnt bolton and newcastle hardly the best defences in the prem
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10/03/2008 18:47:00

Exactly, they have a couple more easy game then us, in between trips to old trafford and emirates. They could well effectivly drop 9 points in 3 game period. The thing about this league this year, the top 8 are much better, the rest are just getting worse.
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10/03/2008 18:49:00

we have just hadwhat i though was our pivitol week. we lost the game against everton quite horribly, so i doubt we are in contention for 5th place (and europe through the league) anymore -but the other one... well, that went just right (for us...not so much for all other euro chasing teams..)
Report Abuse
10/03/2008 19:11:00

Yeah I think its unfair to give a potential uefa cup spot to a championship team if pompey dont win it. The prem teams have put the money in and all that effort over a season 38 games against the elite of the country not 6 games and got lucky on a few occasions. Dont get me wrong though the FA cup is a good comp but the prestige of winning it should be enough in my opinion than using it as a uefa cup place. Man utd / chelsea/lpool all won it and that wasnt cos they wanted the uefa cup place, it's silverware
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10/03/2008 19:17:00

Boro should be an easy team to pick off and I firmly believe we have the quality to put a couple of goals past them, however pompey will be a much harder test and well se how far weve come since we last played them.
Report Abuse
10/03/2008 19:59:00

Win all our home games and away at Derby. and a draw at West Ham last matchwill give us 19 more points. Defeat at Man Utd and one win at either Portsmouth or Goodison would be a massive return. We could do it, with a 70 point finish. Even then, it may only be enough for the Inter-Toto, but that would not be Villa's fault. 70 points would be fantastic whether it gets us in the Champions League or nowhere!
Report Abuse
10/03/2008 20:03:00

next season with a few tweaks here and there, we could look rather good, its only took mon two seasons to get us competing for europe and third highest scorers in the league, what a turn around
Report Abuse
10/03/2008 20:13:00

Most important: The FA Youth Cup!
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10/03/2008 22:10:00

I agree. I really don't appreciate teams geting into UEFA by winning silverware. What is the rational behind this? How could you put a team like tottenham who has been ****e this year in the UEFA cup just because they had a string of luck? And a championship team in UEFA?!?! I just don't get it! We're the ones doing the dirty work up here. I think they need to rethink that format. I'm *****ed. I like cheering for the under dogs alot but i HAD to root for chelsea and I don't like to be put in that position just because of the fear of losing a uefa spot. ***** ***** *****
Report Abuse
10/03/2008 22:14:00

I thought Everton were very unlucky to get drawn against Villareal when they finished 4th.And they have been excellent again this season full credit to them.
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10/03/2008 22:39:00

Yes indeedy, three points against the Boro (and it wont be easy), and its Fratton Park here we come. Six points from those two encounters, and we'll be cooking nicely. Whose this Milan Baros that we're coming face to face with this weekend?
Report Abuse
11/03/2008 01:17:00

LA Villain, at the start of the season it is only the top 4 who get into Europe and the 5th place team into the UEFA Cup, plus in England and France the winners of the 2 domestic cups, everywhere else it is the winners of 1 domestic cup. Getting 5th spot is a guaranteed way of entry so we only have ourselves to blame if we can't make it. It isn't the fault of Chelsea, Tottenham, WBA etc... if we fail to gather enough points or can't compete in cup competitions. The rules are clear at the start of the season so don't get upset that others are failing to do our job.
Hoss The Villain
Report Abuse
11/03/2008 08:14:00

its time to crank the noise up at villa park...we need to do our bit.
Report Abuse
11/03/2008 09:26:00

Precisely JASON. We're getting there when it comes to creating a decent atmosphere, but we're not there yet.
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14/03/2008 07:08:00


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