Aston Villa V Burnley Preview
With the Wembley archway peering over the horizon, Villa fans could be forgiven for casting an exitable glance at the prospect of next weeks League Cup final date with Manchester United. The only issue in doing so, a rather irritating FA Cup replay against Palace, and a tricky home tie against a Burnley side scrambling for points.
Martin O'Neill gave his players a few days off for relaxation, Xbox, and in the case of James Collins, giving a tweet about his girlfriend. Meanwhile, Claret's boss have been on a winter holiday in Portugal for team-building purposes and this will no doubt create a fascinating, fresh-faced approach to the tie.
If my missus had called me 'the ginger one' (@JamesCollins29) I'd not have been impressed!
Aston Villa manager Monny O'Neill is wary that his Aston Villa side are facing a Burnley team still searching for their first away win in the Premier League...ever! Burnley have an atrocious away record whilst maintaining a reasonable fortress in Lancashire.
MON the main mon spoke to avfc.co.uk:
'I saw Burnley a week or so ago - the midweek game down at Craven Cottage - and they didn't play well on the night. There is no point me telling you they did do.
Well spotted Martin, we have no interest in Fulham V Burnley!
'You don't know whether that is a good thing or a bad thing because at the end of it they will be desperate to put it right.
'Obviously they will want to try and rectify that away record which is not great. It puts an awful amount of pressure on their home fixtures to go and win.
MON then added one of his classic befuzzled quotes!
'It's as big a game for us as it is for Burnley. We have to try and win the game somehow, find a way to win it and that's what we're gonna try and do.
As many know on Vital Villa, I'm more of a Field Hockey man rather than football (Field Hockey World Cup begins in India at the end of this month!) but I like to think I know at least a touch about football. With this in mind Martin, if you are reading, I know how to win the game. Score more goals, than Burnley!*
(*Works for me in Football Manager!)
Talking players now, Ashley Young, who apparently is having a good season (in the words of Ashley Young,) has been waxing lyrical...whatever that means about his former fellow winger James Milner and the former Newcastle man's move from the wide positions into the Gareth Barry position.
Whilst Mr Barry seemingly struggles (if Talksports rip into the man is anything to go by) at Manchester City, our former right-hand mind now seems set to push the former Villa captain all the way to South Africa (hope he's got the muscles that's a lot of weight to shift!)
Getting back on topic, Youngy said to avfc.co.uk:
'If you look at the start of the campaign, he was playing wide. And then he moved to the centre. But regardless of position, he's just been tremendous all season.
'He's definitely a contender to be player of the season already. He has been fantastic for us and the way he goes about his job is just exceptional.
'You've got quality players in the middle there like James and Stiliyan but then we've got the likes of Steve and Fabian too. We've got competition but Milly has been brilliant for us, just brilliant.'
Talking about his own future, the out-of-sorts (in my opinion) young-ish-ster started talking of South Africa:
'Our main focus is with Villa and club football.
'We want to go further in the cup competitions and do well in the league too. We've got things we want to achieve and then at the end of the season, fingers crossed, we'll have more than a few lads on the plane to South Africa.'
Something tells me it won't be him sadly. Young may perhaps just about sneak in but right now there are better options, especially as 'Milly' can play in every single position and I'd have no issue seeing him come in as a stand-in goalkeeper...apart from he's a bit short!
Brian Laws mind you has been talking about other issues. Mr Laws has been talking Premier League issues, something that he knew nothing about management-wise up until his surprise appointment as Burnley FC boss.
Yes, Mr Laws has been whinging about Portsmouth FC, and their request to FIFA that they can sell players outside of the transfer window to raise funds to keep the club afloat. Whilst ok if transfer windows never existed, Pompey did have an entire month to sort this polava out...called the JANUARY TRANSFER WINDOW!
Mr Laws said:
We all work within rules and regulations. That is the way the Football League or Premier League has worked for hundreds of years.
'Why should we have to change that for one particular club who are finding it very difficult with their finances? Whilst we have every sympathy with a football club that has difficulties, the only ones they should be looking at are themselves.
'They should be looking in a mirror to find the answer. They got themselves into it, (they should) get themselves out of it. I would hate to think the Premier League would allow them such a ridiculous thing beyond the transfer window.'
I agree Brian, but unlike the usual UEFA/FIFA arguments AGAINST English Football, there are whispers that suggest they are set to treat Pompey with sympathy. Whilst not great for the Pompo fans, the death of an EPL club would perhaps prompt a somewhat root-and-branch clean-up of the supposed 'PREMIER' League's organisation and finances.
Aston Villa Team News:
It is anyones guess as to who Martin O'Neill will really play given the FA Cup replay and an enjoyable glance at the League Cup Final next year.
Long term absences are Nige Reo-Coker and seemingly (why the BBC think he had a chance whilst fit) Marlon Harewood. Aside from that the full compliment are set to be available.
Player to watch: Striker
Whoever plays upfront needs to man-up and get their act together.
Burnley Team News:
Leon Cort and Graham Alexander may well be fully fit for the tie, with the former returning to first team training on Friday following injuries. Chris McCann may well also feature.
As for anyone else, no idea, Caldwell may be out but after that it seems that Burnley have a full squad. Former Villa midfielder and seemingly baby-machine-mentor Joey Gudjonsson will be on compassionate leave, ruling out rumours that the Icelandic international had been involved in a fall out with manager-Laws.
Player to watch: Brian Jensen
Brian Jensen has had a fantastic start to his Premier League Career. One of the mainstays of the team he has shown he can be somewhat unbeatable!
Match Facts & Stats
Well, this is better than that x-factory reject's effort!
Cant see it being sung from the terraces, but it's a cracking effort! Villa!
Burnley is, according to Wikipedia, a large market town in Lancashire. In market's you can buy things like dodgy clothes, cheap toilet roll and Marlon Harewoods' career.
Famous Burnley residents include Sir Ian McKellen, Lisa Riley, Boff Whalley and Coronation Street actress Julia Haworth.
So not that great then.
During their team break, it is is rumoured that Martin O'Neill blasted off into space on his own space rocket. This was to try and work out where 3rd choice goalkeeper Andy Marshall had gone.
Burnley is twinned with Vitry-sur-Seine, which is apparently classed as a 'Commune!' On the outskirts of Paris, it has sod all interesting about it.
The ref for the game is sadly Stuart Atwell. Mr Contraversial, who can't work out when a ball has gone in the net (see Watford Vs Reading) , has managed a horrendous 68 yellow and 3 red cards in just 19 games!
1-0 Villa (Yes I'm being serious for a change.)
A midweek fixture with Palarse again. Hopefully we will actually win!
Thanks for reading folks, midweek preview as normal!