The Week In Villa #18 (19/12/08 - 25/12/08)
Friday, 19th December
We`re drawn against CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Cup. That is a very tricky draw, and winning the first leg at home is crucial.
Saturday, 20th December
Back to (almost) full strength, we didn`t play brilliantly but we got the win at West Ham. Some people will say it was lucky, I prefer to think of it as grinding out a result… Fact is we are up to third. People can say what they like, but you don`t get there on luck.
Brad Friedel was brilliant, by the way. Performances like that are worth the three points alone. The bad news was Carlos Cuellar got injured and we can only hope it wont keep him out of the Arsenal game.
Sunday, 21st December
Transfer rumours are aplenty today. Jermaine Defoe and James Hurst of Portsmouth, Roque Santa Cruz (Blackburn), Emile Heskey (Wigan), Ben Foster (Man Utd) and Newcastle`s Michael Owen are all linked. Wayne Routledge is linked with a move the other way, to either Cardiff or QPR.
The four forward links all make sense and James Hurst is a wee lad, so if there is truth in that it will probably have no affect on the first team for a couple of seasons anyway. The one link I can not see having any credence to it is Ben Foster, with the two American Brad`s doing just fine and, while Randy is not shy in backing MON, I am sure finances are better placed elsewhere.
The good news for us is that Arsenal and Liverpool draw, Emmanuel Adebayor gets sent off so is now suspended for Boxing day and Cesc Fabregas gets injured; although I wouldn`t wish long-term injury on anyone, I have to be happy he is ruled out of the Villa Park clash and, if I am being harsh, the longer he is out the better it is for Villa. From a pure football fan though, he is a joy to watch and I hope he comes back as good as ever.
Monday, 22nd December
The links continue, with Charles N`Zogbia and Craig Bellamy both being added. The Bellamy rumour, depending on what source you read, suggests Marlon Harewood will head the other way. I doubt that, to be honest.
In horrible news, we discover that Martin Laursen is having knee pain and is a doubt for Boxing Day.
In better news, Chelsea drew with Everton. Our title challenge is on!
Tuesday, 23rd December
The agent of Antonio Valencia (a player we have been linked with) says we have not made a bid. As I have said on this column before, I think a creative midfielder is nearly as important a priority as a new forward, and Valencia is one of the players I`d be glad to see come to the Villa.
Unfortunately, there is till no good news regarding Martin Laursen or Carlos Cuellar.
Wednesday, 24th December
'Twas the day before Christmas, and there was very little news; searching the media sources, has made me go snooze…
Okay I will stop there! There is still no good team news and the transfer rumours are stale and repeated.
Tomorrow will not be any better!
Thursday, 25th December
Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all drank and ate too much, unless you play for Aston Villa!
I have taken a wee amount of time out of my Christmas day to see if there is any good update on the team; but sadly, no. I am going to be 100% honest… the idea of Zat Knight against Arsenal scares me to death. One can only hope there is a late boost from Laursen and/or Cuellar. If not, I hope Zat provides me with a massive piece of Christmas humble pie!
Martin O`Neill tells the players to enjoy Boxing Day. I hope they do, but unless we take a big lead, I don`t see me enjoying it much. I can not remember the last time I was this nervous about a game of football. I am excited, and it is a good kind of nervous, but I am very, very nervous!
Oh well, bring it on. UP THE VILLA!!!