Writer: Mike Field
Date:Thursday November 15 2012
We face off against Manchester City for the second time already this season this weekend, so over to Vital City I go again.
With thanks To Lorna Silva.
1) What are you expecting from the season?
We expect a bitter battle with our neighbours Manchester United to retain our title (as Fergie will fight to the death to regain his crown) and we also expect a battle from Chelsea in their attempts to win the Premier League so the trophy will sit nicely next to their Champions League Cup. But as ever for the Citizens it is a fight, one which we will do #together as a team and not as individuals (and as always it is a battle which we seem to enjoy doing the hard way). We are of course expecting more from certain players than what they have produced of late as in the one and only Mario Balotelli!!
2) Were there any highlights or lowlights from your pre season?
Of course, our highlight was beating Chelsea in the Community Shield, that started us off on the right footing and placed us in good spirits. Somehow it didn't quite equip us enough for the battle that was about to commence when the Season kicked off as the speed and intensity of the opposing teams to knock us off the top spot was and still is, immense. We also played well pre-season in our friendly matches away which again saw us scoring goals, which was good for scoring practice. Another highlight for us could be seen as the return of Gael Clichy (a good buy from Arsenal), he had two aims in mind; getting himself back to match fitness (even though he was on good form when he returned to training at Carrington after his break away at home) and ultimately repeating the success of last season and retaining the Premier League Championship title. Clichy defends well at left back so his return was a highlight for him and for the Citizens (it is worthy of note that Clichy also helped Arsenal to win their League title (2003/02004 Season) To me there were no lowlights in pre-season!
3) How do you feel your club did in the transfer window?
The last transfer window to a lot of supporters seemed to be all about 'panic buying'. Maybe this was due to the fact that supporters wanted us to sign big names but the fact that we did not could on one hand say that we did not need to buy big and on the other hand it could say that we were not in a position to spend as freely as we did in 2011 due to not only Mr Marwood but also imminent 'FFP' financial rules' etc. We certainly did not need another striker but we could have done with another 'play maker' to assist David Silva or to replace him when he`s not there.
As for the purchasing of Garcia, Nastasic and Maicon,They seem to be the best buys we have done this season at centre back, central midfield and right back. Garcia and Maicon are powerful and Garcia having the added advantage of height assists in aerial duals ...so yes, we did well in the transfer window and purchased what we needed.
4) Has anybody left who you think has seriously weakened the team?
The departure of Nigel de Jong has left a hole (that hopefully will be filled by the above three; Maicon, Nastasic and Garcia). Also the earlier departure of Craig Bellamy, who took on the role of forward, with an aptitude for speed that often left others lagging behind.
5) Who is going to be your main danger man when we play?
The main danger man would have to be Silva with his skilful passes. He has the ability to play between the lines like nobody else can. Amazing talent and one that you will have to watch. The other danger man as we are all well aware is our ACE card...Edin Dzeko!!!!
6) What are your weaknesses, any clues for the game will be appreciated :-)
Defence can be an issue but this is being worked on not only with the defenders but the goal keeper too! We are well aware of what our downfalls are and that is one of them. For some reason we seem to have developed a knack of being repeatedly caught off side!!!!
7) Will you have anyone out who would otherwise play?
As of this time all players are fit and well apart from Micah Richards which is a blow to us as he is a 'tank' with attitude!. The only question that would remain is the one that is always there....will we be playing Mario ha ha!
Now with a slightly more Claret and Blue angle...
8) Are you surprised to see how Villa struggled last season and do you think we will again this time round?
From what I have seen Villa had a young squad and they were 'finding their feet', but after watching them v United on Saturday 10 November 2012 I noticed a vast vast improvement especially to take the lead by 2 goals to nil. With the likes of Andreas Weimann as striker and winger I do not see Villa as having much of an uphill struggle in this Season.
9) Do you have any thoughts on Paul Lambert?
Yes, I like Paul. He likes to place the accent on youth in his squad, which he had done with his previous club, Norwich. He instils confidence in them and believes his bunch of young players will reap the benefits of their performance and the experience of playing against League leaders Manchester United.
10) What have you made of our youth promotions last/this season, anybody caught the eye for you?
Christian Benteke (purchased in the Summer). - The fact that he caught Lamberts eye I would say is down to the 19 goals he scored in 37 appearances for Genk.
11) Who has stood out most from our recent acquisitions for you?
Benteke again - tall, coming in at 6ft 3in this Belgian lad has scored twice for Villa this season in the Premier League as well as two goals in the Capital One Cup. He's got impressive strength and pace which was apparent in the defeat to Manchester United when he set up the opening goal for Weimann.
12) If you could take one of our players, who would it be and why?
I would have two if I could for the Citizens - Benteke and Weimann. With Weimann you get two in one as he is both striker and winger and we need someone to run the wings. With Benteke he has the height for aerial duals and height is something that never goes amiss especially when we have got some tall opposition to deal with and the likes of Tevez, Silva and Ageuro are a little short (in a nice way of course). Another plus is that Benteke is not selfish with the ball (unlike some players) and not afraid to take a long shot.
13) Who do you see as our main threat in the game?
Apart from Benteke I would see a potential threat coming from Stephen Ireland holding position of centre midfield. As Ireland played for the Citizens for a short while we will still have a memory of how he played. Winning man of the match Villa v Chelsea, in which he scored his first goal, he has slowly gathered a better reputation. He can produce some impressive performances and can be a constant nuisance as he blocks opponents out. On the downside he can be somewhat lack-lustre when it comes to air raids and long passes which are definitely not his forte. (He put in top performances for the Citizens in 2009 and won Player of the Season - Those darn Superman pants spring to mind!!)
14) Where would you say our current weaknesses are in terms of how you will approach the match?
A young Villa defence has to have some weak points and trust me the Citizens will find these out and once we do we will keep going at that weak spot until we run it ragged. One other potential weakness could possibly be Shay Given with his principal weakness, as picked up on by many fans, is his inability to control / command his six-yard box, very rarely coming to claim crosses, which resulted in a few goals being conceded in seasons past.
15) Finally, a prediction please kind person...
I predict a 3 - 2 win for the Citizens.
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Date:Thursday November 15 2012
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