Double Fitness Boost for Villa Ahead of City Derby

October 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Injury News 

Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier today confirmed the return of John Carew and Luke Young ahead of the Birmingham City game on Sunday. Carew was expected to return from the illness that kept him out of the midweek clash with Burnley but is likely to have to make do with a place on the bench after Emile Heskey impressed once again in the cup tie. Gabby Agbonlahor is still a couple of weeks away from a return though Luke Young should feature at the weekend. The news will come as a shock to many Villa fans after Houllier had played down reports of a return in the coming weeks. Whether Young is fit to start is unsure but if he does it would mean a return to the bench for Senegalese international Habib Beye and most likely Carlos Cuellar too. Houllier also revealed that local lad Marc Albrighton was distraught at being unavailable through suspension for derby day at Villa Park. The young winger was sent off for a professional foul in the Carling Cup after Villa had regained the lead in extra-time.

“John Carew seems to have recovered from his flu. We need everyone. Not having Gabby, it is good to have John and Emile.”

“Marc Albrighton is suspended. The boy is devastated – very downhearted. Luke Young should be involved.”

No Operation Required for Petrov

October 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Injury News 

Villa captain, Stiliyan Petrov has been assured that he will not require an operation on the injury he sustained in last weekend’s defeat to Sunderland. The skipper retired hurt in the first half and it has since been revealed that the midfielder is suffering knee ligament damage. Nigel Reo-Coker has been entrusted with the armband in Petrov’s absence which could stretch over a number of months. Manager Gerard Houllier confirmed yesterday that he hoped the Bulgarian would not need an operation on the injury and would prefer a natural recovery. Houllier exposed that this was indeed the case and Petrov would not need surgery on the knee though the duration of the injury is still expected to be as long as first feared. The manager stated that the 32-year-old will not be back in action until the New Year with an expected lay-off of around 8 to 12 weeks.

Ciaran Clark Pens 4-Year Villa Contract

October 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa 

Villa’s promising young centre back has had an eventful start to the campaign this season and after breaking into the team last year, has earned himself a new long-term contract with the club. Clark began the season in the team, starting in the 3-0 victory over West Ham before the Newcastle game which we don’t like to speak about. The 21-year-old has featured in both Villa’s Carling Cup ties this year as well as playing the majority of the match against Chelsea due to injury to Richard Dunne, holding his own against messes Anelka and Malouda. His contract was due to run out next summer which had even attracted reported interest from the likes of Manchester United. He has extended his current deal until 2014 to ward off any unwanted interest in his services. In the past month Clark also had to make the gutsy call to opt to represent the Republic of Ireland in favour of England due to increased opportunities under Giovanni Trapattoni. The centre back who has been at the club since he was 12 expressed his delight at the new deal;

“I’m delighted to sign a new deal and commit my future to the club. I feel I’m at a football club that is progressing and provides an environment in which the young players coming through all want to excel.”

Player Review: Nigel Reo-Coker

October 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa, Player Reviews 

Who better to occupy my second instalment of Player Review than Villa’s new temporary captain, Nigel Reo-Coker. The 26-year-old was handed the honour of the club armband after permanent skipper, Stiliyan Petrov was injured in last weekend’s clash with Sunderland. The knee problem is likely to keep the Bulgarian out of action until the New Year but the unfortunate nature of the injury for Petrov symbolises an unbelievable turn of events in the Villa career of Nigel Reo-Coker. After featuring in 8 of the 9 league games thus far, just 2 less than the whole of last term, the midfielder has impressed new manager Gerard Houllier and fans alike with his tireless performances in the centre of the park. It is perhaps not a surprise that the London born player was entrusted with the captaincy having led both of his previous clubs, Wimbledon and West Ham, from the age of 20. Reo-Coker has also captained Villa on numerous occasions, most notably lifting the Peace Cup in last year’s pre-season, and his ability to lead by example made him an exemplary candidate for the role. The tenacious England Under-21 international will guide his team out for the first time in the league this season against fierce rivals Birmingham on Sunday. Full Reo-Coker Review

Aston Villa vs Birmingham City Pre-Match Prediction

October 29, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Aston Villa, Pre-Match Predictions 

No self-respecting Villa fan, especially one who runs a blog viewed by other Villa fans, is ever going to bet against his own team in the derby with the Blues. It would be like betting that Scotland would beat England, you just can’t bring yourself to even comprehend the possibility. Villa do have key players missing and I beg that Houllier drops Beye for Cuellar, I know he’s not a right-back but he’s also not Habib Beye! These issues aside people do forget that the times of our depressingly under-strength squad depth are nearly over. Nearly. I have to predict a home win and thoroughly believe that we will win. Maybe not 5-1, maybe not even 2-0 but scrap that, I’m going for 2-0. Am I biased? Yes I am, but what do you think the score will be, who will score, and do any of you dare to bet against the Villa? I want to hear from you!

Birmingham (Home) – Sunday 31st October

Possible Starting XI: Friedel; Cuellar, Collins, Dunne, Warnock; Downing, Reo-Coker, Sidwell, Young; Ireland; Heskey

Key Man: Emile Heskey

Goalscorer(s): Heskey, Delfouneso (sub)

Minute of First Goal: 52

Final Score: 2-0

Big Game Preview: Aston Villa vs Birmingham City

October 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa, Injury News, Match Previews 

Sunday 31st October 2010

Opponent: Birmingham City

Venue: Villa Park

Kick Off: 12:00

Sunday afternoon sees this season’s first encounter of fierce rivals Aston Villa and Birmingham City. Both sides have had inconsistent and somewhat disappointing starts to the campaign but, rest assured all will be forgotten with a victory in the biggest game of the calendar year for both sets of fans. Villa play host to the Blues in a game which sees the two sides separated by just 1 point in mid table positions. Villa sit in 10th with Birmingham close behind in 12th but a win means so much more than points and league standings for the opposing fans. Villa have ruled the roost in the second City bragging rights for many years and City manager McLeish is yet to rack up a win against his rivals. Villa have come out on top in the last 6 meetings between the two sides with memorable moments bringing unbridled joy into the hearts of Villa fans including my own in recent times. The 5-1 thrashing and a late Gary Cahill acrobatic winner among the very best and much needed pick me ups of the home crowd in past encounters. Extended Big Game Preview

Houllier’s Brilliant Big Brad Selection

October 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa, Match Reports 

Wednesday 27th October 2010

Aston Villa 2-1 Burnley (AET)

Villa have made it through to the Quarter Finals of the Carling Cup thanks to a 2-1, substitute inspired win over Burnley after extra-time. Villa dominated much of the first half and should have been in front but a lack of goals is still a real worry ahead of the Blues derby on Sunday. Burnley capitalised on Villa’s poor finishing and came out strongly in the second 45, putting the home side on the back foot for much of the half. It took substitutions from Houllier to change the game with Heskey and Downing both introduced to great effect. The former put the home side ahead with 5 minutes remaining but Villa failed to protect this lead with Burnley equalising on 89 through captain Clarke Carlisle. A stunning goal from Stewart Downing sealed victory for the hosts despite a Marc Albrighton red card in extra-time. Extended Report and Ratings

Aston Villa vs Burnley Pre-Match Prediction

October 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa, Pre-Match Predictions 

Gerard Houllier will be looking to capitalise on the opportunity to get back to ways against weaker opposition in Villa’s Carling Cup 4th round tie with Burnley. Defensive absences, notably with both starting full backs missing, will give Brian Laws men hope. I believe that the youngsters who impressed in the last round such as Bannan and Delfouneso joined by Albrighton and Clark will have enough to see off inferior opposition tomorrow night. The mix of this youth and experience from the likes of temporary captain Reo-Coker should provide the fans with another glimpse of the bright future ahead at Villa Park. Tough to call the starting line-up in this one ahead of Birmingham on Sunday so let me know who you think will be given the nod.

Burnley (Home) – 27th October 2010

Possible Staring XI: Guzan; Lichaj, Clark, Cuellar, Beye; Albrighton, Reo-Coker, Sidwell, Bannan; Ireland; Carew

Key Man: Marc Albrighton

Goalscorer(s): Sidwell, Carew, Albrighton

Minute of First Goal: 33

Final Score: 3-1

Aston Villa vs Burnley Match Preview

October 26, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Aston Villa, Injury News, Match Previews 

Wednesday 27th October 2010

Opponent: Burnley

Venue: Villa Park

Kick Off: 19:45

Villa will be hoping to take advantage of some shock exits in the Carling Cup to strengthen their chances of another Wembley date next year. The competition has seen the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham knocked out thus far leaving Villa as third favourites behind Manchester United and Arsenal. Houllier’s men will have to overcome a tricky 4th round tie against Championship outfit Burnley to reach the Quarter-Finals of the tournament which they have won on 5 occasions. New manager Gerard Houllier will have fond memories of the Carling Cup as it was his first trophy as Liverpool boss. He went on to secure another final victory in his time at Anfield and Villa will be hoping the Frenchman’s impressive record in the competition continues. The home side will be big favourites but injury problems and a huge game against Birmingham at the weekend could prove potential banana skins. Full Match Preview

Reo-Coker Caps Fine Form with Captaincy

October 26, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Aston Villa, Hot topic debates 

After a couple of seasons to forget under Martin O’Neill, Nigel Reo-Coker has achieved a complete turnaround of fortunes under new manager Gerard Houllier. Since it was revealed that captain Stiliyan Petrov would be out for a number of months rather than weeks, Houllier has had to consider his options in selecting a new captain. A reported training ground bust up between MON and Reo-Coker had threatened to end the midfielder’s spell at the club but a string of tireless performances this term have seen him rewarded. It is thought that the 26-year-old’s main rivals for the role were centre backs Richard Dunne and James Collins but Houllier has opted for the Englishman who has skippered both of his previous clubs, MK Dons and West Ham. To top off the fantastic news for the player, the £8.5m signing has also seemingly earned himself a new contract with the club. With his current deal expiring next summer Houllier will be keen to thrash out new terms ASAP after praising the tenacious skipper. Houllier Press Statement

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