Darren Bent is set to make his home debut on Saturday when Manchester City travel to Villa Park after humiliating Houllier’s side at Eastlands last month. Much of the news this week at Villa has been regarding their shocking record signing deal for the former Sunderland striker and Bent, 26, should start after Houllier hinted that he usually scores on his debut’s in his press conference. Villa’s other signing, Jean Makoun will not feature after the club failed to finalise international clearance for the Cameroonian in time. However, they have now succeeded in obtaining a work permit and the midfielder will be in line to face Wigan next Tuesday and will begin training with the club after the weekend. Makoun will play as number 17, not assuming Sidwell’s number 4 shirt, it has been announced. Houllier will be hoping Bent can emulate his performance against City for Sunderland, scoring the winner with a last gasp penalty.
The massive news of the Bent signing this week has taken the hysteria off the pressure on Gerard Houllier as his side face 2nd placed City this weekend, a side we recently lost 4-0 to, thanks to a Mario Balotelli hat-trick. The French boss has no new injury worries although it was revealed that Stephen Ireland’s knee ‘injury’ will keep him out for at least another week.
Heskey will serve the last game of a match ban so Bent is expected to start up front on his own, to be supported by Ashley Young, who missed the 1-1 draw with the Blues due to suspension. The back four are set to remain unchanged with Warnock seemingly on his way out and Luke Young still sidelined. A man of the match display from Collins against Birmingham will see him keep his place ahead of Carlos Cuellar.
A baron run in front of goal for Gabby Agbonlahor, who admittedly has been playing on the left wing of late, could see him dropped with youngster Marc Albrighton still impressing manager and fans alike with eye-catching performances. Nigel Reo-Coker and Stiliyan Petrov should retain places in the heart of the midfield with Makoun unable to feature but many think that it could well signal the end of their midfield partnership. Makoun will be presented to the Villa faithful on the pitch prior to kick-off.
Mario Balotelli, who managed to score a hat-trick whilst still playing pretty poorly in the return fixture, misses out with a knee injury. This means that Mancini is left with the measly strike force of Carlos Tevez and £34m man Edin Dzeko who will be hoping to upstage Darren Bent’s recent arrival at the club. Other than that City have little to worry about and former Villa boys Gareth Barry and James Milner will be hoping to start as they return to their old club.
I’m under no illusions that the Bent signing will work wonders immediately but I can estimate that this Villa side will be a completely different animal to the one that capitulated at the City of Manchester Stadium some weeks ago. UTV!
Possible Starting XI: Friedel; Walker, Dunne, Collins, Clark; Albrighton, Petrov, Reo-Coker, Downing; A Young; Bent
Key Man: Got to be Darren Bent! Sorry
Goalscorer(s): Ashley Young
Final Score 1-1
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