Aston Villa at Blackpool, preview, chalkboard time and odds

Richard Dunne and James Collins: They need to play like we know they can and stop the comedy act

If it was the last game of the season and we were level on points with the team third from bottom with a massively better goal difference, that would be a must win game. Tomorrow isn't a must win game, but it is important.

Blackpool have lost their last five games and in the process have let in sixteen goals. Sixteen goals in five games is a lot and with their manager about to quit football, if they don't sort themselves out pretty quick, they could see themselves getting relegated.

Holloway won't quite though - not now we know he is on a cut of any player sales where he makes a profit - it was just hot air from him when he threatened it and the Premier League didn't take him seriously. Had Sir Alex said it, he wouldn't have been fined, but that is why he is where he is and why the fixture list needs to be approved by him every season.

Ian Holloway, November 10th 2010
I'd like to see them try [to fine me]. I would resign. They do not know what they're talking about. I'd pack in, I can't work for this madness.

Last time out

We played against a weakened side last time out and I don't care what Holloway says, he rested players. However, I don't think it made it any easier and I suspect it might have made it harder. The players that came in were playing for a starting place and they were fresh. I don't think he'll rest as many players tomorrow, because points are becoming quite important for Blackpool.

It is possible, although I don't think likely, that Blackpool could be in the bottom three at 5pm on Saturday, so expect him to play his strongest available side and expect them to be well up for it. Also, don't be surprised if they score. They might have let in sixteen in the last five, but they've also scored nine - the same as us over the last five games.

The weakest link

Blackpool goals from last November

I don't think we are going to have much of a problem creating chances tomorrow but I do think our weakest link is down the spine of the team, which is why I'm using that image above because the core reason for that, in my opinion, are our central defenders.

You see, the two goals depicted in the graphic above are the goals Blackpool scored against us last time out. If you don't remember I'll try and refresh your memory as to what happened.

The first saw James Collins looking for the offside against Harewood because he was five yards away from him, in no man's land, when the ball was played in. Harewood had space and time and slotted past Friedel. The second was a bit of a shambles too; Dunne and Collins running into each other which allowed the Blackpool player time to tee up his shot. The shot was deflected in but still, it looked a little like an old film.

Now, we won the game and that is the most important thing to remember, but all season we've looked a little indecisive defensively and Dunne and Collins don't seem to be playing at the standard, defensively, we know they can and they have for us in the past. My point is, if those two play like we know they can, Blackpool will find it very difficult scoring tomorrow, but if Laurel and Hardy turn up, Blackpool will score and that puts more pressure on everyone else in the team.

Blackpool prediction

Like I said, it isn't must win, but it is an important match. A win could see us climb into the top half of the table and if we don't win tomorrow there will be a lot of unhappy people, me included. So, with us knowing that this is an important game and Blackpool losing more regularly than The Clowns at the moment, I'm going for an away win with a cheeky fiver on Bent to score.

I also hope that Ashley Young is still buzzing from the England match the other day and puts in the type of performance that will justify the huge amount of money the club is about to offer him to sign a new contract with Aston Villa - after they've assured him of how much money the manager is going to get in the summer.

Betting odds

We like a bet on the blog but we don't take it too seriously and we don't want you too either. If you have a house payment to make, don't put it on Aston Villa to win. Instead, put a fiver on Aston Villa to win and don't put anything on Bent to score - his odds are awful. Instead, put a quid or two Downing to score or maybe even Makoun.

Please bet sensibly - a fiver on The Clowns to go down should do it.