A Credit Crunched Preview
Its preview time once again, as Aston Villa look to get back on the Premier League campaign trail against a Portsmouth side that have ever so slightly a tad dull this season, despite last years FA Cup exploits, and signing half the players that Villa were allegedly looking at.
It`s another shorty from me, but it`s a preview nonetheless, after all, size doesn`t really matter.
Monny as I now affectionately know him has been out in force this week, and the players have been the usual "quote-tastic" selves, inevitable given the pomp and circumstance that preceded Villa`s woeful demise against a classy CSKA CHelski side prior to the international break.
O`Neill believes that it will be a physical battle against harry Redknapp`s men, clearly worrying about that massive physical prescience that is Jermain Defoe.
O`Neill told the ever-so-lovely avfc.co.uk.
"This will be a big game against a tough, physical side.
"Harry felt early on that they were a nice enough football team but had no physical presence. They certainly have that in abundance now.
"Harry is a manager I admire. He had a great season last year - culminating in the FA Cup win - and well done to him. "It was impressive particularly when you consider the shenanigans he had to put up with at the time. They did brilliantly to win that."
Meanwhile, learning nothing from the previous pre-match quotes, Martin Laursen has vowed to crack on with a revenge mission against Portsmotuh, with the South-coasters having done the double over the Villans last season:
"Portsmouth beat us 3-1 at Villa Park and we would like nothing more than to reverse that scoreline.
"It's going to be a difficult match, though. Although they didn't have the best of starts to the season, they have played really well over the past few weeks and have put some good results together."
Talking on the pitch Martin, on the pitch!
Meanwhile, it seems that Harry Redknapp has once again been auditioning for "Villa Idol" by displaying his love for the club once more. As highlighted by the wonderous world of the Vital Villa forums, Harry has been admiring our spending power, and, possibly the only foreign club owner that Michel Platini won`t want deported from England`s shores if he gets his way at the UEFA Ivory Towers:
"I can't see me being able to spend much money in January. I can't see too many who will - except maybe Villa.
"I hear they have £30million available. The American guy in charge there (Randy Lerner) has proved a great owner for (manager) Martin O'Neill."
I think 'Arry, that the Arab`s at City and the Russians of Chelski, both struggling with injuries as of late, may well wish to disagree with you! Credit crunch? Not in these parts!
If that wasn`t enough, he has pointed out that once upon a time in a distant galaxy far far away, he had the chance to sign both Gareth Barry, and "box-to-box-midfielder-cum-goalscoring-hero" Nigel Reo-Coker, whinging that the Pompey hierarchy stopped him from what would have been (with hindsight) bargain basement signings:
"A few years ago I could have got Reo-Coker and another player (Jobi McAnuff) for a combined £250,000 when Wimbledon were going into administration. But somebody here (at Portsmouth) decided they were not worth the money and it all fell to pieces," he said.
"Two years ago, I had Gareth Barry tied up in what was virtually a done deal for about £5 million when the same thing happened.
"Somebody here thought we should be getting him cheaper. Look what those players are worth now."
AVFC Claret & Blues Team News:
Martin O`Neill has hinted that he may well make changes, with the likes of Jimmy Milner and Carlos Cuellar impressing in recent substitute appearances.
My prediction: An un-changed side as O`Neill bottles it completely in favour of what he knows already. The most likely to be ditched is pub-player-turned-star-turned-temporary-pub-player Curtis Davies, substituted at half-time against Chelski for being generally ineffective.
Steve Sidwell may gain a recall to the bench, negating the need of one from Osbourne, Salifou, or Routledge.
Agbonlahor may be injured, but I`d be as stunned as a Stock Market Broker returning from sick leave this week if Gabby didn`t start the match.
Player to watch: Gareth Barry
Could have gone to Pompey for £5million once, show us what they`ve missed out on Gaz!
Play Down Pompo Team News:
Lasagne (or whatever his name is) Diarra and the somewhat simply-named Andy…Hughes, are both set to miss this game. Another ex-VIllan lines up against his former employers in a Pompey shirt, welcome back once more Peter "do the robot" Crouch.
Player to watch: Glenn Johnson
Hope the Villa Park tech guys have screwed the seats down tight in the gents!
Johnson is a dangerous full back and a sturdy one too, one for our Ashley to avoid methinks!
Match Facts & Stats
Having met the bloke at work on Wednesday, prompting me to use youtube to find out just who the fiddle he was, here`s a song in honour of Monny`s "tough player" warning.
Billy Ocean with "When the going gets tough, the tough get going!"
Thoroughly nice bloke.
Anyway, back to football, Villa are one of just four clubs remaining in the Premier League with an unbeaten record on home turf this season. The others are the "big four" sans le Arse.
The match will be Brad Friedel`s 400th appearance. It`s believed that a special framed picture was set to be presented, however club officials were worried he`d only parry it away to safety.
The only club other than Pompey to do the double over Villa last season, were Manchester United who regularly enjoy absolutely battering us.
Vital Villa Matchday Weather
Please note, that I hold no responsibility should you opt for summer gear, and proceed to get a drenching on the way to the match.
Tomorrow`s weather appears to be a somewhat cloudy day with some bright spells. Should the sun be shining come kick-off, those in the Deadly Doug Stand are advised there may be some clear emanating from the bonces of a number of Vital Villan`s that reside within the Trinity Road stand.
Sunrise, for those alcoholics amongst us, will be 0739.
The City of Birmingham is twinned with Frankfurt in Germany, a place where I will be going in November, in the hunt for cheap flights to Florida!
The referee, sadly, is Mr Mike Riley, who is averaging a whopping 5.40 cards per game, including, randomly, booking 7 Manchester United players in one match!
We`re winning this one, 2-1 with Reo-Coker and Stan the Man getting the goals. Expect Crouchy to score for Pompey.
European nights return, as Aston Villa take on Ajax at Villa Park on Thursday night.