All Hands on Deck!
It’s preview time!
Aston Villa make the journey to the South Coast on the back of a dismal 1-1 home draw with Middlesbrough hoping to get their push for a European place back on track.
The opposition are a Portsmouth side still celebrating the fact that they are the only Premier League club left in the FA Cup, leaving them clear favourites.
Villa, Portsmouth, Preview! All from Vital Villa!
Since Wednesday evening’s draw with Middlesbrough, there has been the usual barrage of “we must do better” and “no excuses” from the official club website.
Villa boss Martin O’Neill was the first to come aboard with such comments as he told of the disappointing fact that his side hadn’t displayed much of the fight and desire that they have been showing the Villa faithful all season (Fulham and Manchester United excepted perhaps.)
“Another disappointing aspect last night was that we didn't show phenomenal desire. That's not something I've levelled at the players on too many occasions.
“I just thought we were second for far too long tonight and that was particularly disappointing. Now it's my job to do something about it.”
Good to see that our highly rated manager has realised it is his job to sort out team problems no?
Defender Olof Mellberg, no doubt spending all his free time at home reading up about the trendy bars of Turin and what beard styles are fashionable in Italy at the moment, has called for the team to handle the pressure as the most important part of the season approaches.
“I don't see it as being a long term problem. We have bounced back before. We haven't really been that consistent throughout the whole season, but we have been able to bounce back within games as well and certainly from game to game.
“Portsmouth will be tough but you never know. We have put in performances when we haven't been under pressure in quite a few away games. It might be a good game for us to bounce back.”
The bearded one was also quoted at the bottom of the avfc.co.uk article with a fascinating comment:
“I have known for quite some time now that this was going to be my last season and I have only missed three games this season. I want to play and give everything.”
How long is “quite some time” is anyone’s guess for a player who was still undecided approaching the January transfer window less than 3 months ago.
Pompey’s very own specialist diver Milan Baros is looking for his first goal in a Portsmouth shirt, and hopes it will come against his old club:
“It would be great to score my first Portsmouth goal against Villa and in front of the home fans, that is what I would like to do.”
As Vital Villa user Beefy responded to the ex-Villan: “I think your wish may well be Zat Knights command.”
As for their expert bargain-basement hunting manager Harry Redknapp, he has been telling the media that cup-tied striker Jermain Defoe will not be ignored as Pompey hit Wembley for an April semi-final:
“Of course we will be taking Jermain to Wembley with us - hopefully twice.”
He added: “He was the first to text me with congratulations after we'd beaten Manchester United on Saturday. That shows the team spirit we have in the camp.
“Jermain is a natural goalscorer who will get 18-20 a season. He's done it again for us.”
FC Pompey Team News:
There’s not a great deal of information coming from Portsmouth in terms of injury. Milan Baros and Jermain Defoe are likely to be the starting pair upfront.
Player to watch: David James
David James was once so error prone that he picked up the name “Calamity James.” Nowadays, even some Villa fans are pointing out that we would perhaps benefit from the afro-haired big man between the pipes for us once more.
37 years of age and it appears that James is just hitting his prime, his top corner two-handed save against Birmingham City was a beaut. John “I don’t feel like it” Carew and Gabriel “1 goal in 15 is ok?” Agbonlahor will have their work cut out for them.
Perhaps he could show our “one to watch” the ropes.
AVFC Claret & Blues Team News:
Following such a dismal performance against a mid-table side, you’d expect your average manager to probably make sweeping changes.
Unless your manager so happens to be Martin O’Neill. I’d be expecting Olof Mellberg to come in at right-back for the dismal Craig Gardner (though you can’t blame him, he’s a midfielder!)
Wayne Routledge is suffering from a lack of confidence apparently and is unlikely to feature. There’s been no sign of Patrik Berger or Silly-Stan-The-Missing-Man-Petrov for ages so expect a continuation of our ‘direct’ style of play.
BREAKING NEWS: I have received communication from Vital Villa and Vital Football boss Jonathan Fear this week that suggests that Togo international midfielder Moustapha Salifou does actually exist.
Speaking the day after Villa’s 1-1 draw with Gareth Southgate’s side, Mr Fear made a brief comment regarding poor old Salifou: “He exists, I saw him with my very own eyes yesterday!”
Player to watch: Scott Carson
It’s battle of Villa goalkeepers past and present at Fratton Park on Saturday. Can the man whose catastrophic error against Croatia ruined England’s chances of qualifying for Euro 2008 outshine the man who has taken his national starting place?
It was a disappointing night out for Carson on Wednesday, who really should have stopped Stewart Downing’s shot on Wednesday which, in effect, was straight down his throat.
Come on Scotty, you’ve gone down in my estimations again!
They want YOU as a new recruit!
The Football Association chief match official for this match is Chris Foy.
Mr Foy took charge of Chelsea’s 6-1 spanking of the somewhat pointless Derby County on Wednesday night. Last time he was at a Villa game was our 2-1 defeat away to Fulham.
Not sure we’d taken 3 points away so I’m going for a 2-2 draw with Carew and Young the scorers.
Sunderland visit Villa Park on Saturday the 22nd March.