Home Sweet Home!
It`s home football action Jim, but not as we`ve known it, as Aston Villa leap into Carling Cup action at the 3rd round stage against Championship rich-boys Queens Park Rangers.
Villa have enjoyed a fantastic away streak, 3 victories on the road over the course of a week within the league and the UEFA Cup, now attention turns back to Villa Park for League Cup action, a tournament in which the Villans have a rich history.
Martin O`Neill may shuffle the pack, Ian Dowie would have to shuffle far more to avoid scaring young children with his dashing looks, Villa have money, Rangers fans have little money (after forking out for high-priced tickets.)
What credit crunch? Carling Cup? Pint glass preferred tonight!
When it comes to pack shuffling, Martin O`Neill is far from the ace of spades, however he avoids cliché`s in a way that both Vital Villa, and the official sites previews have failed to do so.
I bet our editor is as sick as a parrot.
Anyway, MON has admitted he may well make changes to allow the 'fringe` players an attempt at glory (this will undoubtedly include a total avoidance of starting Marlon Harewood) with the exception of the cup-tied Jimmy Milner.
Speaking to avfc.co.uk the Villa boss said:
"We will make a few changes but we still want to go out and win the game."
"People will have paid good money to come and watch us and will expect a performance and safe passage through to the next round."
Too right I have, £15 match fee, £19 return ticket (with another tenner on top if over-time means a night-stop) and I expect better than a match similar to that where one of our players likened himself to the Dog & Duck`s slightly overweight #4 which we had to put up with last season.
MON may make some bizarre footballing decisions, but he`s no mug in misjudging the potential banana skin (there`s another cliché!) that is QPR.
"They are one of the big noises of the Championship and will be expecting promotion in the foreseeable future and certainly they have a man in charge who is capable of delivering that for them.
"Only last year, he took Coventry up to Manchester United and won.
"I have known Iain a fairly lengthy time. He is quite a character and will be so, so wanting to do well tonight for his team, the fans and the owners.
"It will be difficult for us - we are aware of that. We need to apply ourselves properly from the start."
To explain, the "big noise" in the Championship, is that of the QPR fans screaming "HOW MUCH?"
Meanwhile, captain fantastic Martin O`Neill dreams of this season being the season that Villa finally lift some silverware (ignoring the Inter-Two-Bob-Joko) following the 1996 League Cup, way back when the tournament had a slightly less alcoholic sponsor.
He told avfc.co.uk:
"It's a great time to be captain. It's been super from the first time I did it. It's even more enjoyable when you are winning games.
"It means a lot to lead the team out. It's a great honour. Everything I am asked to do as a captain is a big honour.
"If we were to win the League Cup, I would lift up the trophy.
"When you're not captain, it doesn't even cross your mind, but when you are skipper, you do think about it. To win the trophy and lift it as captain would be fantastic."
Meanwhile, on the QPR side of things the Londoners had this to say of the game:
It seems they`ve had very little to say on the subject. No doubt they`ll be struggling at full time too after a thrashing.
Overall, Rangers boss Ian Dowie isn`t going overboard on just about anything following their defeat at the hands of our local "rivals" (in their eyes) Coventry City.
"I wasn't singing from the rooftops on Wednesday after our win at Norwich, and I'm not going to go overboard with a defeat,' said Dowie.
"You've got to keep it real and we will do. We are still in the top six and that is to be applauded."
Keeping it real Ian, keeping, it, real!
Aston Villa Team News:
As mentioned some pack shuffling will go on. The man who collapses like a stack of cards in a wind tunnel Ashley Young, not to mention the likes of John Carew, Martin Laursen et al may be rested.
In response, we could see rare starts for the likes of Marlon Harewood (ha!) Osbourne and midget winger Wayne Routledge.
Steve is Sid-not-well, so sits out, Jimmy Milner is cup-tied after the Sky Blues knocked him out of the cup in round 2 during his Newcastle Untied days.
Player to watch: Nigel Reo-Coker
Do do do, Nigel Reo-Coker
Do do do, please score another goal!
QPR Team News:
QPR are boosted by the returns of Matthew Connolly and Fitz Hall, meanwhile Damiano Tommasi and Rowan Vine will miss out.
Vital QPR say:
"Evidently Iain Dowie will be reluctant to deviate from the 4-5-1 formation that has served him well during his managerial tenure in W12 thus far, and Dexter Blackstock remains uncontested in the lone striker`s role."
4-5-1 against a counter-attacking side? Should be a fascinating one!
Player to watch: Daniel Parejo
Again I`m going to go with what Vital QPR have to say, and believe that Spanish U-21 international Daniel Parejo is the one we have to watch out for. Clearly the most talented technically of the QPR job lot, he may well have a similar effect for QPR, that that Steve or Bob or Tom, whatever his name is, had for Latex Glovech.
Facts, some useless, some not.
The musical interlude comes this week purely because I think the song is ace! Kings of Leon with their new single called "Sex on Fire."
QPR have recently changed their badge, going from the traditional, to the modern, although unlike Villa`s subtle changes (which I am now 100% used to) the new ownership at Rangers have gone for the same level of subtlety used by the USAF during Vietnam. To describe it in one word, it`d be sh…iny!
In two days of my job, due to going on my breaks I managed to miss former Villans, from the sublime to the rediciulous, in the form of Alan McInally and David O`Leary (respectively.)
Tonight will be my first trip to Villa Park this season, and likely to be my only trip until December. Thoroughly looking forward to it! If anyone sees me in the Holte Lower, say hello!
The last time the two teams faced each other, was in the same competition, as the Villans overcame the Rangers 3-1 with goals from Darius Vassell, Juan Pablo Angel and Nolberto Solano. Danny Shittu was playing for QPR that day, Mathieu Berson made a 6-minute appearance for Villa, and probably did sod all.
It is impossible to sneeze with your eyes open
Go on, try it.
The ref for tonight`s game is none other than Mr Lee Mason in a week that has been tough for referee`s following the goal-that-never-was-anything-but-a-goal-kick in the Championship action.
Mr Mason has managed 12 yellow and 1 red card in his four games, proving it`s nearly Christmas time.
I want to say 8-0 Villa, and due to transport issues getting back, I pray to whoever will listen it doesn`t go to extra time. Head says 4-2 Villa with Reo-Coker getting all 4.
We`re back to Premier League action as now eliminated league cuppers Sunderland visit Villa Park on Saturday 27th at 3pm!
Thanks for reading, feedback as usual via the comments page or in the forums on PM!