FA Cup Match Preview: Aston Villa at Selhurst Park

February 14th would normally be a day when I get up early and let the wife sleep in, squeeze a dozen oranges, spend an hour trying to create the perfect eggs benedict and drive for an hour to the florist and back for a dozen red roses, but this February 14th is different. It falls on a Sunday and the florist is closed.

Okay, hands up, it isn't because it is a Sunday, it's because Aston Villa are playing in the FA Cup. Okay, real confession time, the above is something I read that someone did and it would never happen in my household, although I am fully expecting a bacon sandwich and coffee brought up to me just as I am about to wake.


Joking aside, this is a big match. According to the bookmakers we are the joint third favourite at 5/1 with Spurs for the FA Cup, so are within touching distance. For the record, Chelsea are the favourites, followed by Manchester City, but on our day, we can beat any of these clubs and on that specific day, there is no better manager to have rallying the troops.

Crystal Palace Player Watch

I have only seen Palace play once this season, the previous round against Wolves earlier this month, so I can't really comment, so I've asked a friend who we should be keeping an eye on.

The first player he mentioned was Darren Ambrose and the name rang a bell. He is a 25 year old midfielder who has played at Newcastle and Charlton. This season he has scored twelve league goals from 29 appearances and three from five in cup competitions. Midfielders that score like that are valuable and he will obviously be full of confidence.

The next player mentioned was right back Danny Butterfield who has also spent time up front this season. You might not know this but he scored a hattrick against Wolves in under seven minutes in the last round and again, I suspect, he will be full of confidence approaching this match.

The last name sent over was another midfielder, Neil Danns and the quote that came over with his name was 'lively'. Some of you might recognise the name as he was once a clown and made 31 appearances at the circus.

Early Team News

Petrov and Gabby are doubts for Sunday and at this stage, if they are doubts, I wouldn't expect them to be playing and the rest will probably do them good. Heskey and Warnock are back in light training, but again, this game might come around too soon for both of them.

Carew looks off his game, although he has started the last two games on the bench so I wouldn't be surprised to see him start and I also wouldn't be surprised to see Delfouneso start alongside him, or even if Martin O'Neill reverted to a 451, with only one of them starting.

I say that, as I think it is an ideal opportunity for O'Neill to play Delph alongside Sidwell with Milner just in front of them. It is a wild prediction, but I have a little more faith in Sidwell than most others and I think Delph did enough last time out and in the Brighton game to warrant another start.

Palace Prediction

We might be the away team, but we are the Premier League team and we do have a fantastic defensive record so it is going to be tough for Palace to break that down. Add to that we are 3/4 favourites at PaddyPower, you'd have to be a brave Palace fan to put money on a home win.

But, it won't be straight forward because there will be changes and changes can take time to work, but we should have enough quality to win this at the first attempt and I do think we will. I think it will come down to the quality of player over anything else and because Palace are going to want this and they are going to play into our hands.

So, the result on Sunday should see us playing in the next round. I say should, but this is the FA Cup and anything can happen, but on paper, I can't see us losing. Live updates, Tweets and banter starting quite early on Sunday, just after my bacon sandwich.