Reading Reading? (Villa Preview)
Wemberlee, Wemberlee, we're the famous Aston Villa and we'll be back at Wemberleeee!
Ok, so our first trip to Wembley Stadium since 2000 didn't go particularly well and Martin O'Neill's claret & blue faithful came away with nothing more than a great day out and a runners-up medal each.
Why does that matter?
Well, given the fact we've got a second chance at Wembley Stadium glory it doesn't!
Villa take on a Reading side that have already dispatched Liverpool and Championship title chasers West Brom on their way to the quarter-final date with the media already cranking up the giant-killing storyline one would hope doesn't happen!
Weaker than Michael Owen's hamstring is...
Martin O'Neill has been somewhat quiet since the League Cup final defeat at the hands of Micky 'what hamstring?' Owen and his Manchester United chums. So it falls to the squad to give their views on the FA Cup run that drifted into the background since our more Carling (other beers are available, I'm drinking Fosters at the mo!) run of wonder!
Fresh from his England U21 goal-scoring debut, Nathan Delfouneso is eagerly looking towards another trip to Wembley. The youngster, whose goal on Wednesday night failed to save England against Greece at the Keepmoat Stadium is hoping for a better shot at first team enjoyment! The Fonz spoke to avfc.co.uk:
'It [Wembley] was a great experience. The fans were brilliant and the team were brilliant as well. They gave a great performance - it was just a shame about the result.
'I'd be very happy knowing that I'd played a part in other rounds and scored goals and feel that I've played a good part in it.
'It was great because they were my first goals of the season and added a couple of goals to my tally. It will help improve me as a player and it will help my confidence as well. Hopefully we can do the job on Sunday and go back to Wembley again.'
I hope you get there too. A Michael Owen, World Cup 1998 moment? That'd be nice!
Meanwhile, the artist formally known as Mark Delaney, the greatest right back we've known since Luke 'benchwarmer' Young believes that the Villa squad will be determined to put wrong their rights, or right their wrongs, I struggle with those right and wrong debates! Again speaking to avfc.co.uk our former Welsh Wizzard said:
'I think you could see by the faces how disappointed the lads were.
'Hopefully that will be short-lived and they can bounce back and get into the semi-final of the FA Cup, which is at Wembley again. They have got that competition and the league to play for still - they have the chance to bounce back straight away.
'Manchester United showed a little bit of class and came on strong in the second half. It's important to forget about that and focus on getting through in the FA Cup now.'
A fair point Mark. Does anyone know what he's up to these days? The last I heard he was involved in some form of coaching?
Meanwhile, the good folks over at Vital Reading have reported on the Royals' boss Brian McDermott's comments regarding the chance to pit his wits against Martin O'Neill. Speaking to the Reading Post, McDermott said:
'I remember quite a few years ago I was assistant manager at Yeovil and the manager was away so I took the game against Wycombe. We drew 2-2 and Martin was competitive and you can see he wants to win every game.'
'They`ve got good players in wide areas and up the pitch, but we'll do what we do in every game. We look at our strengths and will play to them.'
Given that kinda quote, and with Reading being the underdogs, I would be as bold to suggest that Reading's game-plan will be to attempt to narrow things down, forcing us to play through the middle rather than exploiting our wicked-cool pace and ability out wide. The only thing that they seem to have forgotten is that in the middle we have James Milner, and James Milner will run through walls if required! The former Arsenal and IFK Norrköping midfielder perhaps has a touch to learn, giant killings or no!
Reading Team News:
Reading are boosted by the return of Shane Long who has served his entire 4-game suspension. Jobi McAnuff is suspended and due to the loan rules, Blackburn loanee Zurab Kixizhgbisngivhivalli isn't available.
Injury woes include midfielders Jem Karacan and Kalifa Cisse.
Player to watch: Adam Federici
Adam Federici has been linked in the past with a higher-level than he has ever reached, the Australian international will undoubtedly be looking to impress ahead of the Soceroo's attendance at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Aston Villa Team News:
It is anyone`s guess as to who Martin O'Neill will play for this one. With a few niggling injuries following the League Cup Final, there's a chance he could rest players, however, top 4 isn't guaranteed and it would be good to get back to Wembley with a full strength squad. The only team choice I would predict is that Brad Guzan will feature. Usual suspects are injured.
Player to watch: Strikers
Sorry guys you let us down in London, put it right please.
Match Facts & Stats
In honour of all the good folk who use the Vital Villa Forums, especially given the recent thread. It appears to be the full video so be patient! Also, those who are conversant in Asian languages will appreciate dual-language subtitles!
I make no apologies with making a hockey reference. I hope everyone reading this will send their best wishes to Reading H.C. player Richard Mantell, who suffered a horrific ankle break in England's 5-2 World Cup victory over Pakistan.
Reading FC is one of the oldest clubs in the country and whilst they were formed before Villa, did not enter the league until 1920.
For those going to Reading, they should know that the town shares it's name with 2 US cities. The football team players at a stadium horrendously named after it's owner. At least we only have a stand named after the ex-owner! The Madejski Stadium seats over 24,000 people. Which to be fair is a lot of people.
It should be noted that the stadium is built on top of a former waste dump.
Talking of waste, Marlon Harewood is awesome.
The weferee (if Jonathan Ross would be quoting this) is none other than the mystical Mike Dean.
Mr Dean, who as someone from the Wirral is by name a 'Plastic Scouser' has sent off 6 people in his 30 games and somehow has managed 106 yellow cards!
Smashing!Villa head to the Potteries next for a tricky away-tie against Stoke City on the 13th!
Thanks for reading the Reading preview folks. Here's to a solid victory!