Writer: Mike Field
Date:Saturday February 7 2009
Charlie Nicholas has said today on Sky Sports that we are looking very good for a Champions League place, and if we can turn Chelsea over in our next match Arsene Wenger will have to stop worrying about catching us up, and concentrate on trying to pass the Chelsea boys.
Nicholas is less convinced in our defence, and has concerns over the squad size and the choice we have on the bench but is happy that as long as we can continue to convert the chances we create we are more than capable of staying where we are.
Speaking on Soccer Saturday, he said:
'They really struggled at times at the back, Knight and Davies struggled with Roberts in particular and McCarthy.
'But Villa had more than enough chances in the first half to wrap the game up and they certainly deserved to win, there's no doubt in my mind about that.'
The fact that we have now won seven games on the trot away from home also hasn't escaped his attention. What I wasn't aware of was that this figure has only previously ever been achieved in the top flight by Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs apparently.
Nicholas believes this is simply proof of Martin O'Neill's shrewdness in managing to get the best he possibly can from players.
'You've got somebody like Luke Young, who's an out-and-out right-back and Carlos Cuellar who is a centre-back, but the manager puts them in different positions and they manage to look fairly comfortable and know exactly what's required of them.'
The resurgence of Petrov's form and influence this season, has also been pointed out. Especially given the roll he now performs for us and his performance today.
'When I saw him at Celtic he would go beyond strikers, get chances and was a smart finisher. Today he was a very efficient player all round.'
Speaking in more general terms about what we have achieved this season and life at the top, he said:
'There's pressure on Chelsea, there's pressure on Liverpool now. All the compliments need to go to the manager and how he keeps rolling this bandwagon along.
'The next league game is at home to Chelsea and if they were to take Chelsea's scalp - and you wouldn't put it past them - not only does it give them unbelievable belief that they belong in the top four, but Arsenal will suddenly be looking at Chelsea as the ones to catch, not Villa.
'That would be an unbelievable compliment to Aston Villa.'
It certainly gives you food for thought doesn't it. More and more the media are warming to us and the so called experts are singing our praises and they believe we can achieve what was almost unthinkable at the beginning of the season.
Who knows if it will happen, but Arsenal are a fair few points behind us now, and if we can turn Chelsea over we will be five points ahead of them.
Date:Saturday February 7 2009
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