Sidwell Set For Fairwell

December 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Transfer News 

Steve Sidwell looks to be on his way out of the club after it was confirmed that he is in advanced talks regarding a move to West Ham in January.The 28-year-old midfielder has never really settled at Villa and after failing to establish a first team place under Martin O’Neill, injury has prevented him from trying to impress new manager Gerard Houllier. Sidwell, currently sidelined with an Achilles injury, may well have played his last game for the club as a recovery from injury should come just in time for a transfer window switch to bottom of the league West Ham. His contract expires this summer which means that any sort of 7 figure sum will probably do from Villa’s point of view. In 70 appearances from the club in all competitions, Sidwell has netted 4 goals along with one own-goal whilst at Villa. The midfielder has played 45 times in the Premier League for Villa although only 24 of these have been starts, with just one so far this season. Rumours suggest he may make way for Joey Barton but either way we wish him the best of luck in a tenure that never took off although he never really disappointed.

Villa Line Up Budget Barton Buy

December 21, 2010 by · 11 Comments
Filed under: Aston Villa 

Trouble’s brewing…Villa are reportedly lining up Joey Barton to replace Steve Sidwell who seems to be set to leave the club in January. The controversial, I think I can safely say, ‘wanker’ is apparently on Gerard Houllier’s radar and a cut price fee is thought to be in place with new Newcastle manager Alan Pardew seemingly more than happy to see the back of Barton. Were he to join he would team up with Stephen Ireland, if he stays, once again after the two were on the books at Manchester City. If Houllier has attitude issues with Ireland he should probably go out and buy Joey Barton, makes perfect sense to me! Despite the fact that he is an uncontrollable idiot, Barton has undoubted skill and technical ability and he has caught the eye of many pundits this season, and the ribs of Morten Gamst Pedersen who scored against Villa this year so we can forgive him for that. Fighting kids may be a problem with Villa’s young stars coming through maybe facing a more literal scrap for places than they would have hoped were he to join. In 13 games for the Toon this season Barton has 2 goals and 4 assists since missing much of the club’s promotion campaign last year. The 28-year-old is entering the final 18 months of his contract which has led Newcastle to supposedly slap a cut price fee of just £1.5m on his head, hopefully it was a pretty hard slap on the head too! A bargain? Yes. A tosser? Yes! Your thoughts please…

Houllier Preparing £1m Gatagov Bid

December 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa 

Aston Villa have been linked with a bargain buy move for Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder Alan Gatagov. The 19-year-old is seen as one of Russia’s brightest prospects and has represented his country at Under-21 level 6 times netting 3 goals in the process. The youngster is somewhat ambidextrous and can also play at full-back. In the Russian Premier Liga, Gatagov has played 18 times this season though he has only started on 5 occasions, scoring once. Despite a lack of starting opportunities, Gatagov’s performances have caught the eye of a number of big clubs around Europe so if the interest is true, Houllier faces tough competition. Villa are believed to be the favourites to sign the prospect in January and he could cost as little as £1m with the player thought to be keen on a move:

“I am opened to leaving the club if the offer is right for all the parties concerned.”

Random Pre-Xmas Villa Stats

December 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
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Despite the squad rotation, 3 Villa players have played every minute of every game so far this season. Unsurprisingly goalkeeper Brad Friedel is one of them and is joined by former Blackburn team-mate Stephen Warnock, who has not played well all season, and Stewart Downing who has played pretty well netting 6 goals in the process.

In Warnock’s 17 league appearances he has incurred 7 yellow cards, the joint second most in the league behind the frankly incomprehensible ‘talents’ of Lee Cattermole. However perhaps the most, shall we say ‘impressive’ disciplinary record goes to Ciaran Clark, who in 750 minutes of football including 7 starts, has picked up 5 yellows and suffered a one game ban in the process. On a more positive note Villa are one of only 5 teams not to have had a man sent off in the Premier League although player of the season, Marc Albrighton was red carded in the League Cup.

Villa’s away record is one of the worst in the league and the sole reason why the club is languishing above the drop zone. Having picked up just one win on the road, and the considerably short road at that, against Wolves. Houllier’s side have scored the joint least number of goals on their travels (5) and conceded the third most (18) giving them an away goal difference of -13 from just 8 games.

From the individual performances in each players last 5 outings, the player ratings show that ex-Blackburn stars and this seasons ever-presents, Brad Friedel and Stephen Warnock have ranked as the sides worst performers with a rating at 5.60. Without a doubt this seasons revelation and best player Marc Albrighton is the player whose last 5 games have reaped the best ratings despite a lay off with appendicitis. Albrighton has an average rating of 7.20 over his last 5 games while Carlos Cuellar’s impressive return against WBA means that his average for the same period is 6.80. Ashley Young, Stewart Downing and Emile Heskey all rate at 6.60 over their last 5 appearances.

Villa Target Keane Unsympathetic of Ireland Situation

December 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa 

Supposed Villa target Robbie Keane is clearly not the biggest fan of Stephen Ireland after the midfielder fell out with the Ireland management in the past. It had been suggested that Ireland had intimated a desire to return to the international fold to put himself in the shop window after a dismal start to his Villa career but when Ireland captain Robbie Keane was asked of his thoughts on the matter, he showed some pretty abundant resentment towards the 24-year-old;

“He should come back if he wants to come back, if he doesn’t want to play for his country what can we do? Why, if he doesn’t want to come back, would you want him to come back?

“It’s like the media keep saying he is the best player in the world! If what happened had happened in England the player would have been slaughtered. In Ireland we make him out to be the best player we have.”

Villa in Link with Yet Another Keeper

December 17, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Transfer News 

A goalkeeper to replace the ageing Brad Friedel appears to be high up on Houllier’s wish list this Christmas with the American yet to receive a new contract offer from the club. Allan McGregor, Jason Steele, Scott Loach and Roman Weidenfeller have all been linked in recent times and you can now add Bolton’s reserve keeper Ali Al-Habsi to that list. Villa will come up against the Oman international, currently on loan at Wigan, on Saturday and Houllier may use the opportunity to get a closer look at Al-Habsi with Bolton willing to listen to any offers. Villa are joined by rivals West Brom and Newcastle in their apparent interest and it appears that a move may well be on the cards for the keeper in the January transfer window. A supposed price tag of £5m for the 28-year-old doesn’t appeal in the slightest despite good performances for the Latics. When quizzed on the matter, Bolton manager Owen Coyle stated:

‘It’s all hearsay at the moment, but if a bid comes in we’ll sit down with Ali and his advisors and look at it.

‘We can’t really talk about it until it happens. We know he’s been playing well, but we knew he was a top goalkeeper when we loaned him out. He needed to play and it was a great deal business-wise for the club,

‘It allowed Ali to play Premier League matches as well as enabling us to promote Adam Bogdan, who is also an excellent keeper. It was a win-win situation for us. If a bid comes in January, we’ll look at it, and do the right thing for the football club.’

Wigan Athletic vs Aston Villa Pre-Match Prediction

December 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Pre-Match Predictions 

My prediction’s are clearly pretty woeful having got just one result correct all season but we persevere! Wigan and Villa are two of the Premier League’s un-form sides if that makes any sense, though a Villa win last week and some impressive displays filled me with hope having been at the game. Wigan are depleted but a the injury blow to Ashley Young will boost their confidence. I would hope that the unfortunate injury should mean a return for Gabby in a two-up-top system but we seem to be loving this awful 4-4-1-1 formation this season. Impressive performances from King Carlos, Lichaj and Hogg should see them retain places ahead of Dunne, Young and Clark/Bannan respectively. Here goes…(feel free to show me up with a prediction of your own!)

Possible Starting XI: Friedel; Lichaj, Cuellar, Collins, Warnock; Albrighton, Hogg, Clark, Downing; Agbonlahor, Heskey

Key Man: Marc Albrighton

Goalscorer(s): Albrighton, Heskey

Minute of First Goal: 22

Final Score: 0-2

Wigan Athletic vs Aston Villa Preview – Gabby In, Young Out

December 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Match Previews 

Saturday 18th December 2010

Opponent: Wigan Athletic

Venue: DW Stadium

Kick Off: 15:00

Villa will be looking for a first back-to-back league win of the season when they travel to Wigan on Saturday. Gerard Houllier has had yet another week of rumours of unrest amongst certain players to deal with in a week that came off the back of his sides first league win in 6 games against local rivals West Brom. It was thought that most on the news on the injury front was set to be positive but it was announced on Friday that last weeks skipper Ashley Young was out for the game with a strained medial ligament. Houllier is optimistic that he will be back in time for the next game against Tottenham though reports from certain papers have suggested it could be worse. On a positive note, Gabby Agbonlahor will be back in contention after a chest infection kept him out against West Brom. Young’s absence and Gabby’s return could mean that Villa try the dizzyingly attacking tactic of two up-front after a goalscoring return from Emile Heskey last time out but try not to get too excited about the prospect!
Full Match Preview

Wanted Man: Ireland Interests Merseyside Duo

December 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Transfer News 

After rumours of showdown talks with Gerard Houllier were not the first for summer signing Stephen Ireland, there have been a number of clubs become very aroused by the unmissable bald man (not really my type). Despite a pretty dismal start to his Villa career, sides are not being put off from an interest in the 24-year-old who is undoubtedly a class act at his best, which sadly for Villa is some way off. It appears to me as though the manager is unwilling to try the midfielder for two games in a row let alone a run in the first team which I believe is a shame. The player’s wages are high and with Randy Lerner looking to tighten the purse-strings somewhat on the wage bill, it could be nice knowing you Mr Ireland! A loan move has been consistently touted with Celtic and West Ham both reported as potential suitors but could we be in for another Merseyside scrap (with less kicking and punching one would hope). Liverpool have been linked with a surprise move to offer Ireland a lifeline whilst fierce rivals Everton may have to look to replace Steven Pienaar who appears to want out. I think he might make a good scouse but limited chances at Villa would surely mean limited chances at Liverpool. Stories have also been broken that the midfielder may look to get back into the international scene after falling out with the management years ago. The decision is reportedly being considered in order to put himself in the shop window after looking unimpressive from the stands last weekend! I say keep him, play him and he’ll come good but sadly I don’t think Gerard Houllier reads this blog and along with most of the Villa team, we had a falling out so he won’t listen to me! Stay or Go, what do you think?

Villa Renew McGeady Interest

December 14, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Transfer News 

Aston Villa have been linked to a renewed interest in Aiden McGeady under Gerard Houllier. It was believed in the summer that McGeady was a top target for Martin O’Neill and the winger was reportedly keen to link up with the former Celtic manager. Now 24, McGeady appeared to be unsettled at Celtic and was favouring a move to England which never materialised with Villa unwilling to stump up the £9.5m price tag that eventually saw him join Russian side Spartak Moscow. It has been suggested that McGeady hasn’t adjusted to the Russian culture as much as he would have hoped and that the Irishman is keen to return home after a game against Chelsea in the Champions League saw him fly back to Britain. Despite reports of a reported cut price deal, the Spartak sporting director Dmitri Popov has rejected the claims that McGeady will be allowed to leave the club after a decent start in the Russian league. Popov stated:

“McGeady is certainly not for sale. It is not true that he is unsettled in Moscow.

“No one has approached us from Villa yet but, if they do, our answer will definitely be a no.”

So that will be a no then will it? Anyone a brief look at his stats for you both pre and post Moscow days. In the Russian Premier Liga, McGeady has played 11 games, scoring twice and assisting 3 times. Along with this he has featured in five of the clubs Champions League ties. In his last season with the Scottish giants he scored 7 times in 35 appearances, picking up an impressive 14 assists. His play-maker credentials are clear to see and in his entire career at Celtic he played 182 times, gaining 47 assists and shipping in with 29 goals.

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