Writer: J P Fear
Date:Friday April 7 2006
Gulp. It is local derby time. Two Sunday's in a row will see us face West Bromwich Albion and then Birmingham City. Two wins and at least some local pride will be salvaged from this dire season. Two losses and the manager-merry-go-round is bound to be the result. Having watched the Baggies recently, they look like they at least have some fight in them, lets hope our team - who are badly stretched with injuries - are up to the task. Of-course they are.
Jonathan Greening (aka the 2nd coming) said: 'For me, the most important thing on Sunday is that everyone puts in a good performance and we can start picking up points. We've played well in recent games against the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and, in the second half, against Liverpool but had no reward for our efforts.'
Roy Aitkin said: 'We're looking for a response but from a motivational point of view the derby game motivates the players. Our results have been poor of late but we feel there's plenty of optimism going into the derbies because we know if we play to our form on the day we've got a very good chance of winning. It's our home match and the derby will look after itself. The players will know exactly what it means to the fans, the club and how important it is to pick up three points.' Adding 'We want to climb the table as best we can over the next six games and the derbies are among that so it's important we pick up three points and give the fans the bragging rights. 'We've already done that this season and we have to do it again.'
David O'Leary said: 'People are saying we could get dragged into it. I've said for ages until you get to safety, you can get pulled into it. The sooner you get the points in the bag, the better. I sense a little bit of apprehension and nervousness about the players. The one thing that will do their confidence the world of good is a win. A win playing well would be even better.'
Even Steve Bruce has had a say! 'Make no mistake if Albion get a result against Villa then they're in the equation, as simple as that. It's all on.'
So that is it, the heat has been turned up, now we need to see what the team can do.
Delaney and Berger are out for the rest of the season according to the latest reports. Captain Olof Mellberg is out and Gareth Barry is a major doubt. Cahill could make his debut alongside Ridgewell, or Aaron Hughes experience might be preferred in the centre. I can't find any news on Samuel so I'm assuming he is still injured. Bouma also looks to be missing from the squad but again, can't find any details. Baros is expected to return. (from): Sorensen, Taylor, Hughes, Cahill, Ridgewell, Davis, McCann, Hendrie, Angel, Phillips, Baros, Moore, Whittingham, De La Cruz, Gardner, Agbonlahor, Olejnik, Jumper-Jumper.
Get in there lad!!
Nigel Quashie returns from suspension, Steve Watson and Nathan Ellington face late fitness tests. (from): Kuszczak, Albrechtsen, Davies, Watson, Robinson, Greening, Quashie, Kozak, Wallwork, Johnson, Kamara, Ellington, Kanu, Campbell, Hoult, Gera, Inamoto, Campbell.
Can be a tricky bugger!
Last season: Aston Villa 1-1 West Bromwich Albion (Vassell) (Robinson)
This season: West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Aston Villa (Watson) (Davis, Baros)
Prem record: Villa 2 wins, WBA 0 wins, Draws 3
Prem at Villa:Villa 1 win, WBA 0 wins, Draws 1
Villa are 16th with 35 points. Best case we could climb above Fulham, worst case remaining 16th.
Home form league: 18th, 4 wins, 5 draws, 6 losses.
Last six games: D W L L D L
Current form league: 16th
WBA are 18th with 27 points.
WBA away form league: 18th, 1 win, 5 draws, 9 losses.
:-( Mark Halsey. 16 games, 5 reds, 27 yellows.
Mystic Mug refuses to contemplate a loss but worries that if any club are on a bad run Villa will oblige them with the points. Still, this is a local derby, so he's got to back his team and says a 1-0 scrap.
April 16th SMALL HEATH
April 18th (Wigan)
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Date:Friday April 7 2006
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