Monday night’s big ESPN televised clash between The Villa and City promises to be a classic encounter as two similarly placed and constructed sides go head to head in their bid to break into the top four…
‘Teams have to adjust and correct themselves when they lose an obvious talent like Gareth Barry. Martin was making the point that they have been able to adjust and the impact has not been as great as it was initially feared. That doesn’t mean they don’t miss him. It is maybe a case of looking at their own resources and changing the way they play. That is healthy for the Premier League. The more challengers you have the better it is for the competition. It keeps the interest alive.
‘There was a disappointment at the end of last season because we weren’t able to qualify for Europe, but it could have been a blessing
in disguise. We had an intense week last week, but we came through that with flying colours. If we had had to face a European tie on the Thursday that could have compromised us going into the Villa game, but we haven’t. The positives are that we are fresh, we were able to give the guys a little bit of time off to recover from their exertions on Monday and we are in good shape. We’re pleased with the rest from that point of view.’
Martin ‘Touchline Mad Professor’ O’Neill:
‘Is this a big game for Richard Dunne because he was at Manchester City for seven or eight years?”Yes, absolutely. I don’t think you would feel that coming back to your old football club having spent every day of your working life there, those things don’t just disappear overnight.
Is this a big game for Richard Dunne because Richard was caught up in two moments? No, not for me. Up until Saturday we hadn’t conceded a goal in the time they’ve been here. (Villa’s new defenders, Dunne, Collins and Warnock) I have been delighted with them, they’ve done exceptionally well. So far, touch wood, it’s a wee bit better than we were doing last year.’
‘It was a shame to lose Gareth but he’s moved on. He’s a brilliant player. He’s fantastic for England, he was fantastic for Villa, so he should get a good reception. Hopefully for Gareth’s sake he does get a brilliant reception, because I think he deserves it for what he’s done.’
Aston Villa Team News:
Steve Sidwell returns after missing Villa’s defeat at Blackburn and Luke Young will face a fitness test.
Definitely absent will be Davies, Bouma and Downing.
Player to watch: Gabriel Agbonlahor
Academy local lad Agbonlahor is a dangerous proposition at the best of times but as top scorer with 5 goals in the bank already this season, he is going to take some stopping.
Stifle him and it’ll be a job half done for The Blues.
Manchester CITY Team News:
The big news/ rumour swirling around SportCity this weekend has been that desperate to reach the World Cup Finals Argentina coach Diego Maradona has pleaded with City to not field the in form pair Carlos Tevez and Pablo Zabaleta at Villa Park. The latest we have is that City have offered to private jet the City scrappers to wherever they are needed as soon as the game in Birmingham is over.
Sparky has other options though. Micah Richards is eager to get back in amongst it at right back and the monumental Emmanuel Adebayor is likely to start the game in place of Tev with Roque Santa Cruz declaring himself ready to win the league!
The classy Vincent Kompany came through full training on Friday ready to board the coach for the trip to the Midlands.
Otherwise, Robinho, Benjani and Onuoha are Sparky’s only senior squad absentees through injury.
Player to watch: Martin Petrov
Rigsby is on fire and each charging foray forward that he made last Monday night left West Ham’s defenders absolutely shellshocked.
Based upon City’s 8 wins since the start of the season (including the friendly victory at a packed Nou Camp), Sparky looks like he is getting the balance right in promoting a fierce competition for places and Petrov looks determined to make the left wing his own.
Match Facts & Stats
The Blues have lost only twice against Villa in the last 15 league and cup clashes between the two sides.
The Villa have conceded the fewest goals in the Premier League this season. Only five.
So far this season, every league game that City go ahead in, they win.
This will be Seamus Given’s 400th league start.
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M L Dean (Wirral) Mr. Dean officialled City’s opening win of the season at Blackburn and was the man who oversaw the rags dodgy win over Arsenal. He’s a big yellow card flourisher. 2008-2009 Record: Games: 44, Yellow Cards: 156, Red Cards: 12. Reffed The Blues on three occasions last season: Man City 1 – 2 Tottenham, West Ham 1 – 0 Man City, Man City 3 – 1 Blackburn.
This has got too close to call written all over it. Villa will provide yet another stern test of City’s top four credentials and The Villans will be thinking likewise of The Blues. A mouthwatering clash if ever there was one. I feel that outside of a scoring draw, City will just edge it. Johnny On The Spot: Villa 1 CITY 2
A, Wigan Atheltic, Sun 18 Oct 1600 BST
H, Fulham, Sun 25 Oct 1600 BST
H, Scunthorpe United, League Cup, Wed 28 Oct 1945 BST