Wednesday 10th November 2010
Venue: Villa Park
Kick Off: 19:45
Villa will be looking to put a turbulent week off the field in the past with a winning performance on it as the Midlands club play host to newly promoted Blackpool. Gerard Houllier must have been ready to celebrate when his side went into the 94th minute of the weekends match with Fulham 1-0 up. A last minute equaliser from Brede Hangeland crushed Villa hearts to put a dampener on an otherwise impressive performance. The result means that Houllier’s side are now without a league win in 5, during which the clubs only two goals have come from Marc Albrighton. Blackpool are having a decidedly happier time in their debut Premier League season having shocked fans and pundits alike to see themselves in the dizzying heights of the top half. Villa lay in 14th place in the league just 3 points above the drop zone but also just 3 points off a 6th placed finish in a tight league table.
Aston Villa’s temporary captain, Nigel Reo-Coker was injured in the first half against Fulham and it has been confirmed that the midfielder will miss up to 3 weeks with a knee injury. The list of absentees didn’t seem like it could get much worse for the manager but news this week of an achilles injury to Steve Sidwell may leave him sidelined until Christmas. The two missing midfielder’s join Stiliyan Petrov on the treatment table and pave the way for the impressive Bannan and Clark to retain their respective places in midfield. Bannan played for Blackpool on 22 occasions last term whilst on loan, helping them to secure promotion to the top flight. The tiny Scot will be hoping that his man of the match display at Fulham will keep him in favour ahead of Stephen Ireland.
Up front 19-year-old Nathan Delfouneso should also keep his place after a bright first Premier League start last time out. Another option available to Houllier would be to deploy Stephen Ireland just off Ashley Young as a sole striker after the midfielder managed to impress his manager in his brief cameo against Fulham. The youngster remains Villa’s only fit first team striker though Gabby Agbonlahor is close to a return and is likely to make the Villa bench. This will come as great news to his manager and the fans after worrying goal glut. Emile Heskey faces another couple of weeks out alongside John Carew who is suffering from a minor tear in his calf.
Much of the media interest surrounding the club in recent days has been around an apparent war of words between Carew and Gerard Houllier. After a statement from the Villa manager was supposedly misinterpreted in the Norwegian press, Carew reacted angrily. The comments were regarding the striker’s future at the club and whether he would be handed a new deal. Carew felt that talking about this in the press showed a lack of respect to him and the fans. Houllier’s actual statement was full of praise for the big forward and the Villa manager was far from happy from Carew’s response. The Frenchman branded Carew an ‘idiot’ and said that he was ‘living in the past’ in what was turning out to be a farcical tirade between player and manager. The club released a statement to say that the issue had been resolved internally before Houllier came out and placed the blame on the comment being somewhat lost in translation. Either way the club need to put their squabbles aside and focus on results after a pretty serious league blip.
The visitors come into the game off the back of a 2-2 draw with Everton and have the best away wins record in the league with 3. Manager Ian Holloway will be hoping that Brett Ormerod will return after missing the last two matches with a groin problem. Defenders Alex Baptiste and summer signing Craig Cathcart are their main injury concerns with an otherwise full squad to choose from. Unlike their opponents the Seasiders have no problem in the goal-scoring department of late and an entertaining game should await.
Blackpool’s games this season producing more goals than any other team, 40 in just 11 games. In contrast Villa have just 10 all season and have scored just twice in the second half of their 11 fixtures. After the late equaliser from Fulham last time out Villa have dropped the most amount of points in the league when in a winning position, 10. Villa’s lack of goals should be helped by the fact that Holloway’s side have the worst defence in the league and throwing away points couldn’t be harder against a team that have lost 5 and drawn once when going behind. The first goal is vital in this one as Blackpool are far better at holding onto their points having gone unbeaten in the 5 remaining games in which they have taken the lead.
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