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Friday, 22 February 2013

Aston Villa: What can we expect from Arsenal and Man City?

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Nearly two weeks have passed since Villa last kicked a ball in anger and every fan’s blood pressure has returned to normal. It won’t be long, however, until the hearts are racing again and Villa will be back in action once more, fighting for their survival.

And what a baptism of fire the Villans have with a trip to Arsenal this weekend followed by a visit from Manchester City. Neither side has really been firing on all cylinders recently but it’s pretty safe to say they are quite a bit better than Villa on their day. The one thing all three teams have in common is there are question marks over all of their manager’s heads, which is strange because all three could also have very good reasons for feeling hard done by.

Villa manager Paul Lambert has been in the job for less than a year, Man City manager Roberto Mancini has won three trophies in two years and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has won pretty much everything possible while keeping the club’s finances in order.

LAmbertHaving said, Lambert has taken Villa on their worst run in Premier League history and dealt the club its heaviest ever defeat in more than 130 years.

Roberto – despite claiming to be the best manager in English football (although that may have been taken out of context) – cannot get his team playing well in Europe and doesn’t look like closing the gap on United any time soon.

And Wenger is clearly losing the plot and having not won any silverware since 2005 is losing a large section of the Arsenal fans.

Comparing a manager battling against relegation with two who have extremely good track records is perhaps a little harsh, but before Lambert came to Villa he was being talked of as the next big thing.

There’s no way a manager can lose all the qualities that made them number one for the job in the first place overnight, but how all these managers get their teams to react over the next few weeks could make or break their seasons and, more importantly, the rest of their careers. 

Returning to Villa, Lambert needs to get something out these next two games. It’s going to be a huge challenge but it’s possible and partly because of the pressure on the opposing sides.

Villa played really well, for them this season, at home to Arsenal and deserved their point, if not more. The side looked positive when attacking and defended well.

There’s no reason why they can’t go to Arsenal and get something, playing on the break, which suits this side so well – and has done as long ago as the Martin O’Neil days.

Manchester City rolled Villa over at home and there’s every chance they will do it again at Villa Park. But the side is not firing on all cylinders at the moment and if Villa can get an early lead – and not defend like imbeciles for the last 10 minutes – they could come away with something.

I feel it’s important to point out that I’m not quite living in cloud cuckoo land because I also know as well as anyone if Arsenal and Man City get their tails up there could be another Chelsea-drubbing against either side.

Villa fans have been dismissing games against the bigger clubs as points already lost all season, but go in to matches against teams in and around the danger zone hoping for a miracle win, which has brought an air of desperation to the whole club – because against those lower league teams we have failed equally as badly.

That’s not to blame the fans because if you can’t get your hopes up against the lower league teams, who can you get them up against?

The one thing that could play into Villa’s hands is the fact the next two teams have to win all their games from here on in to compete for the title or European qualification.

Villa, on the other hand, have to try and win all their games to stay up – but won’t be expected to. Villa still finds it incredibly difficult to break a side down when they’re defending but they can hit teams on the break and score goals if they can get their back line sorted.

Nought points from the next two games would not be surprising, but perhaps it’s time to go into each game with a renewed hope?

We won our last game didn’t we?

Calling all Villa fans: Are you as confident as James? Do you think you can get something from Arsenal and City? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.




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Colin Illingworth



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