Fat Lady, Start Your Engines (City Preview)
City of Manchester Stadium
Many a time we are told, in one of sports greatest ever clichés, that it isn`t over "until the fat lady sings."
Over the course of the last week or so, she`s finished eating her kebab, washed it down with one last pint of lager top, and is about ready to start wobbling down the road shouting abuse at people and singing songs about wishing to go home.
Women are changing.
Turning that current affairs topic into football, it now appears that Arsenal have managed to regain the fitness of a number of players, and even swapped Nicklas Bendtner for someone who can play football. Comparing this to the rather disastrous week and a half or so for the Claret & Blue, out of two tournaments, defeat to Chelsea and a Saturday result that was more "this must be a joke" than "we drew at home to Stoke." Villa fans cast a nervous glance over their shoulders at le Arse, who may well be set to launch a renaissance assault on the "big-4-which-is-now-5-because-we-can`t-forget-Arse."
Villa travel to Eastlands, a stadium where I last sat to watch Bon Jovi in concert. It was good, however I`m not sure he`d be cut out to play left back (though in recent times, would probably be picked ahead of poor Nicky Shorey!)
It`s Villa, it`s Man City, Abu Dhabi Dooooo, Preview!
I can`t really take the mickey out of Arsene Wenger this week, so here`s a 'terrific` comment from Paul McGrath:
Teams are not remembered for finishing fourth in the Premier League. The history books generally only show the names of winners.
Meanwhile our illustrious prioritising manager Martin O`Neill has engaged in the reverse mind-game tactic, of praising Manchester City almost completely. He told avfc.co.uk:
"There is no doubt the game will be extremely difficult for us. We could have been facing Kaka - and who's to say we won't be facing up against him next season - you never know in this game.
"Manchester City have spent heavily in the January transfer window with not only this season but future ones in mind too.
"And they will certainly, within six or seven months, be a force to be reckoned with.
"They will be major players in the Premier League next season."
It`s the way that you tell em Marty, it really is!
Stiliyan Petrov, a man re-born this season, has heaped praise on his fellow Bulgarian Valeri Bojinov, who may make a rare start thanks to injuries to just about every one of his rivals. Petrov told the official site:
"Valeri is a great talent. He has already played for two big clubs in Italy, Juventus and Fiorentina, so he is highly rated.
'Unfortunately, he's had a terrible time in the Premier League so far but he's back now. I think City have a great player and we will see more and more of him in the coming years.
"It is fantastic to have him in the national team too, alongside the likes of Dimitar Berbatov."
On the flip flop side, the man who will join the unemployed masses this summer following a dismal Premier League campaign ;o) Mark Hughes has been talking about his injury woes:
"We may well have to play Boj on Wednesday, although it is probably a bit too soon to expect him to play 90 minutes in the Premier League.
"I am pleased we got him on at West Ham because he has not had much Premier League experience.
"It was important that he got a taste of it as soon as possible and we were able to do that, so that was a positive. It is still early in his comeback and we will have to see how he goes. He is a good option for us."
I guess you could always play Darius, Mark? Give us all a giggle!
Manchester City Team News:
As reported, Mark Hughes is struggling with a lack of strikers. Robinio, who still can`t find out where Frank Lampard, John Terry and Didier Drogba have been all this time, is suffering from knee injuries alongside fellow
Chelsea Man City forward Craig Bellamy. Bojinov may well be the answer.
Micah Richards is supposed to be struggling as well, aside from that; they look to be doing alright.
Player to watch: Shay Given
Since finally realizing that Newcastle are not a big club, are not a good club, and the sooner they "do a Leeds" the better, Shay has been continuing to prove he is one of the best keepers ever to have graced the Premier League. A tough test for Gabby, who has a hard enough time of late putting the ball on target, let alone either side of a keeper, let alone either side of a superb keeper!
Aston Villa Team News:
Emile Heskey, who I`m starting to think is being rushed back time and time again, is injured again. Same injury, same story. As much as we`d love to expect changes against City, I`d imagine that we`ll see John Carew and Gabby Agbonlahor re-united.
Despite his reserve team comeback, Wilf Bouma is unlikely to be included in the squad.
I call, personally for Bannan and Albrighton (or at least one) to be placed on the bench. They deserve it.
Player to watch: Gabby, again!
This time Gabby, remember the goal is the other direction.
Match Facts & Stats
Yet again here at Vital Villa we go all current affairs (who said it`s all boobs, jokes and il-discipline.) Oasis were shunned when it came to producing the
Crewe Alex Manchester City anthem "blue moon" (to be played tonight) in favour of The Doves. Whilst I do like a bit of Oasis, this is why the Doves are better!
Now, with that ringing through your ears, it`s time for some Manchester facts. The first ever edition of "Top of the Pops" was filmed in a church in Longsight, Manchester.
The City of Manchester stadium was originally a two-tier stadium for it`s use during the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
Whilst I haven`t played at Eastlands, I have played where the 2002 Commonwealth Games Field Hockey finals were held at Belle Vue. We won!
Manchester is twinned with Wuhan, which is situated in the Hubei province of China. Wuhan Huanghelou, the Chinese Premier League team, have a coaching and commercial link with Bolton Wanderers.
I never went to Wuhan. I did however go to Xi`an, Shaanxi province. There was a cow standing in the drop-off area of the airport. Two cows in fact. (Photo evidence can be provided.)
Cows say Moo!
Chris Foy is the referee for tonight`s fixture, he comes from Merseyside and un-official reports suggest whenever there is an issue he shouts "eh eh eh calm down calm down!"
Mr Foy has averaged 3.6 yellow cards a game, and has remarkably sent off just one player, Stoke City`s Andy Wilkinson the unlucky recipient.
2-1 Villa, it`s going to be tough, but I`m going to damn well enjoy it!
Mug and Fear will be about soon I hope!
Villa continue to push for top 4 glory the hard way, Spurs at home on Sunday 15th March! Who knows, maybe I will make the match!
Thanks for reading folks, ridiculous love is on the horizon, I just have to sent £500 to Russia! Feel free to comment below!