Opposition View: Aston Villa
By Ric Turner, Mon 10 October 2011 14:44
Ahead of Saturday's clash with Aston Villa at Eastlands, Bluemoon caught up with Scott and The_Rev from www.villatalk.com for the lowdown on the opposition...
1. Who do you think will be Villa's key players this season?
Scott: Gabby Agbonlahor and Shay Given - Gabby because he looks like he's back to his best and when he's on form, he's so quick and so strong that he's a handful for any defence on his own, we don't need to be playing well to get the best out of him. Which is handy. Shay because... well, because he's going to be a busy boy I think.
The_Rev: Hard to say who the most important player will be this season. The stars we have looked to in previous years have all left the club and it really is only Darren Bent and a resurgent Gabby Agbonlahor who are looking like they will score goals. Shay Given deserves a mention here, he has been excellent so far but big things were expected of our other new signing, Charles N'Zogbia and he has been massively disappointing so far.
2. Were you happy with the business conducted during the transfer window?
Scott: It's difficult for fans of 'normal' teams to be happy with a summer's business nowadays I think. We'd have had to have spent a hundred million or so to have changed our chances of reaching the top four and even then we'd have been outsiders. In terms of what we did, Given was good news and Hutton filled a hole (albeit unconvincingly so far), N'Zogbia has disappointed but it's early days and Jenas is yet to feature. The jury is out I think. Unhappiness is fueled more by those that left than those that arrived.
The_Rev: Not a bit. We have sold our best players and replaced them with people who arent as good, and we have taken cast offs that other clubs seemed desperate to get rid of. Something of a trend in recent transfer windows, sadly.
3. What are your expectations for this season?
Scott: A mid-table finish with 7th as good as it gets and not being relegated the minimum requirement. I was hoping for a bit of excitement in the cup but we're out of one and we invariably draw your nearest and dearest in the third round of the other one. I expect a season filled with ho and hum.
The_Rev: Mid table mediocrity, hopefully a run in the FA cup. Our first XI crashed out of the league cup at home to Bolton reserves so the 15 year wait for a trophy looks like it is about to extend into a 16th year.
4. Are you happy with the manager?
Scott: He'll do. It's a difficult job and one that he's sort of used to. He's the victim of his association with our backward cousins from across the city and also a victim of our altered ambitions, but I think he'll prove effective if not attractive.
The_Rev: Jury is still very much out. I cant forget where he came from, or what he did there (2 relegations) or the fact that he finished third in a two horse race while manager of Rangers in the SPL, or his ultra defensive brand of 4-5-1 hoofball but he does seem like a guy who is committed to the cause and wants to do well here. He says all the right things to the media and that seems to have rallied a large section of the support who were against him from day one. We are still unbeaten in the Premier League, albeit with five draws from seven games, but the crowd will turn on him if we have a run of defeats. The fixtures have been extremely kind to us so far and it is November/December when it really will be time to judge, we have to play Spurs, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea in quick succession plus a tricky away day at Stoke and we could conceivably lose all of those games. Where we are on New Years day is very important I think.
5. Are there any rising starts in the squad that we might not have heard of?
Scott: Yes - we're good at this. Wee Barry Bannan is five foot nothing of dynamite, imaginative and creative, Marc Albrighton is a traditional winger with a touch of the Waddles, Ciaran Clark is a cool as a cucumber centre half and behind them Gary Gardner is a real prospect in centre mid. You'll probably only see Bannan, but it's worth keeping an eye on the others.
The_Rev: 21 year old Barry Bannan is the guy you will probably be buying from us in a couple of years. He looks like the real deal and could be the latest very good player to come out of our rather fantastic youth academy. He seems to have cemented a place in Scotland's first team and is settling to life in the Premier League very well. I guess you could best describe him as an old fashioned midfield schemer, he has a great touch, can pass the ball with ridiculous accuracy and has a decent shot on him too. The big question mark over him is how well he reacts to getting kicked. He is five foot nothing and six stone dripping wet, and he might get muscled out of games once other teams start seeing him as a threat.
6. If you could have any City player in your team who would you choose?
Scott: James Milner for his football, Gareth Barry because I felt like he belonged here. Although quite frankly if you're offering I'll take any one of about a dozen.
The_Rev: Heart says James Milner. We still love him. Head says either Silva (best player in the Premier League?) or Kun Aguero.
7. What is your perception of City as a club?
Scott: I like City. The league's been all about money for a decade and yet for some reason it's all your fault. I like Mancini;Balotelli is hilarious and at least you've shaken things up a bit.
The_Rev: At the moment you are like Del Boy five minutes after he sold that watch, and if you dont get that reference ask your dad. Still loveable, still the underdog despite all the money and definitely the most interesting team in the world at the moment. You do know we will all hate you in three years when you have won the league and the bandwagon hoppers will be wearing City shirts on the streets of Birmingham though, right?
8. Likely Villa starting XI for next Saturday, and score prediction?
Scott: Given, Warnock, Collins, Dunne, Hutton, Petrov, Bannan, Delph, Ireland, Agbonlahor, Bent. 2-0 to you.
The_Rev: 4-5-1 from us. Given. Hutton, Dunne, Collins, Warnock. N'Zogbia, Bannan, Petrov, Delph, Agbonlahor. Bent.
Wouldnt be surprised to see a debut for Jenas if fit, in the place of N'Zogbia who has been poor all season. McLeish is very cautious and might see N'Zogbia as a liablilty. I think City will win and keep a clean sheet.