Right Royal Preview
24th February 2008
After a 2 week break, giving Speedy Agbonzales enough time to guarantee his first team start, Villa get back to Premier League action on League Cup Sunday. Full preview, as you’ve become accustomed to, from Vital Villa!
Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill believes that the game against Reading will be one of Villa’s biggest fixtures of the season. With 12 games to go, Villa could still qualify for the Champions League, however it is easily as possible for the Claret & Blues to sink out of European contention altogether!
Speaking to avfc.co.uk O’Neill said:
“This is a big Premier League game for us and if we've got any designs on trying to stabilise our own position and trying to shift on in the last 12 games of the season, we've really got to focus ourselves.
“I was delighted with the second-half against Newcastle, which was terrific. Now we've got to build on that and this is a really big game for us - no doubt about it.
“It will not be easy. The pitch might not be the best and it may not be conducive for playing great football, but we have to handle that.”
As mentioned previously on Vital Villa, Marlon “The Hero” Harewood doesn’t want to be a super-sub, and is fighting hard to gain a first league start in a Villa shirt:
“I want to play my part and obviously I'd rather not been known as 'super-sub' or anything like that. I want to start the games, but I don't make the choices. Martin picks the team and wherever he puts me, I'll be happy to be part of it.
“It's hard to take when you're not playing, but I'm experienced enough now to take it as it comes. There's no point getting irate about it. Once you go out on that pitch you have to show what you can do.”
No point getting irate indeed, your about to lose your place to a misfiring ‘England International.’ Keep going Marlon!
From the Reading camp, old misery-face is back again on Vital Villa with his typically dull, mediocre comments…
…Actually NO! Reading boss Steve Coppell is positive for once (hoorah!)
Well nearly, Coppell has spoken of his delight (ish) that he has a fairly strong squad to select for ahead of the Premier League clash:
“After the Cup of Nations we have a healthy squad, I think 27 people are training at the moment.
“But the fact that I have everyone fit doesn't help me pick the team. The team doesn't jump out at you.
“It's a hard team to pick, there will be a few disappointed but I hope that translates to determination to get in the side.”
When quizzed about the excellent performances of one Ashley Young of late, Coppell was, again, positive!
“It's opportunity. He's been given the opportunity to do what he does best, create chances. He's the most productive player in terms of assists. Graeme Murty has got a job on against him, and when you play the top teams it's a great marker. You can see where you are in the closing ten or eleven games. It's a really important game results-wise and the performance has to match Everton.”
FC Royal Reading Team News:
As previously mentioned, Reading are likely to have a full compliment to choose from.
The squad is completed following Ivar Ingimarsson’s return from suspension, Bobby Convey’s return from injury, and the addition of Medic-Hater Andre Bikey and Ivory Coast international Emerse Fae.
Player to watch: Andre Bikey
If I were a member of the St.Johns/medical staff at the Madejski Stadium, I’d be getting nervous about the return of Bikey. A big, powerful player, Villa’s forward players will have to ensure that they are wheelie switched on if they wish to get anything from the match.
VILLA! Team News:
Gabriel Agbonlahor has returned from injury and is likely to slot straight back into the starting line-up at the expense of anyone who dare get in his way!
Wayne Routledge, having impressed boss Martin O’Neill lately may be set for a place on the bench.
Marlon Harewood, is just great!
Player to watch: John Carew
After his hat-trick against Newcastle it could be said that Carew is on fire? Well big JC, prove it. Go do it all over again!
Match Facts & Stats
You even get a quiz this week!
The referee for the game is Mr. Martin Atkinson.
The last time that he was in charge of a Villa game, is when we crashed out of the F.A. Cup to Manchester United.
Card happy this one, 75 yellow and 5 red cards in 29 games!
I used Pro Evo 2008 for the prediction. It will be 2-0 to Villa with Agbonlahor and Petrov doing the damage.
Villa travel to the Emirates Stadium to take on an Eduardo-less le Arse on the 1st March.