Villa v Man City Preview - time to fight back
Villa v Man City Preview – time to fight back Edit | 0 Comments - Add comment | Back to MCFCfans Blog Written 39 minutes ago by malcylon
What a big test we face in our first premiership game of the season. Martin O’Neill achieved 6th in the league last season and proved that his slow and careful squad building based around hard-working English players is paying off. Holding onto Gareth Barry so far will also be a boost to the rest of the team even though the saga seems set to continue.
We can only look on with envy at an owner who keeps himself to himself most of the time and seems to have footballing interests at heart (Randy Lerner: A Case Study on Foreign Ownership, Footballing World, Nov 2007). We’re already craving the stability he has brought to Villa.
City go into the match having avoided defeat on their last six league and cup visits to Villa Park but there is much to be concerned about, starting with the lack of fitness. I didn’t see the Villa match on Thursday for obvious reasons, but how our fitness and match sharpness compares to Villa will be key to this game.
Nowhere more so than in defence. With Richard Dunne suspended, Ben-Haim and Richards will have to be well enough versed with each other to cope with the pace Villa have up front. Young making his debut for Villa may keep Corluka fairly pinned back, which leaves Ball (probable left back) and Petrov as our most likely source of success out wide.
The remaining question is whether to start with two up front with Sturridge and Bojinov, or to leave Bojinov up on his own with Elano playing off him. Given the lack of striking replacements if things go wrong, I would tend to agree with Danny at ‘Bitter and Blue’ that it seems more likely Hughes will opt for safety first and keep Sturridge on the bench.
If there is any thread of light to go on then it will be the nature of the defeat on Thursday night that should jump the players into action. How the players approach this game and how the manager’s body language plays out throughout the match will be a strong indicator of our potential performance this season given off-the-field issues. We have the quality to match Villa on paper but it's whether that quality is 'switched on' or not. I’d be happy with a draw in our first game but happier still if the players put up a solid fight and show some real potential.