Aston Villa v Manchester City: One player can make a team

When I was a young lad playing school football, we had a player that made our team. It wasn't that he won games by himself or was actually the best player in our side, but for some reason, he gave us belief when he played.

I never experienced that type of belief from a single player after leaving school. I also played against him once at county level and it looked like he was having the same effect on that group of players that he had when we were at school. The thing is, he knew he had it too.

Maybe, Darren Bent could be that player for Aston Villa. I'm not saying he is going to win games all by himself, but maybe he gives that little extra belief to other players and maybe that extra something is enough to see us turn things around.

He might not be, but there is a chance and he will score goals. Maybe that is all that is needed. Create the chances and he scores them. That could be enough. You see, we do already have some very good players at the club.

Manchester City

This isn't meant to put pressure on him, but tomorrow is an important game and if he can make an impression and the rest of the players feed of his energy - it really could be a case of one player making a team. I think we can win, it's just that it will need everything to fall into place.

I write this because you don't need to do what Manchester City have done and buy players for every position. You need good players and players that can win you games and you need team spirit. Manchester City have most of that, just not all and if they come up against a team with it all, chances are they will find it difficult.

Early team news

Darren Bent will start and I don't think that means someone misses out up front, I think what it might mean is Gabby goes wide again and essentially plays in midfield. If that happens, we will see a different Gabby and hopefully a lone striker in Bent.

Webcam is also back after missing the match at The Circus and if Gabby does start, I think that will mean him playing in the hole behind Bent with Downing on the other wing, which would see Albrighton miss out. I'm not a fan of this and I'm ultimately not a fan of Gabby on the wing, but that is how I think the manager will play it.

Expect Friedel to start and the back four to be Clark, Collins, Dunne and Walker and also expect to see Petrov and Reo-Coker in the middle - but also please, remember, this is all just guess work from me.


No result would surprise me tomorrow and I am going to have a cheeky bet on Darren Bent to score and for us to win, but my heart is saying draw and my head is saying something else.

Betting odds

Daily updates

12.04pm: John Carew joins Stoke on loan for the rest of the season. I didn't think you could do loan deals between Premier League clubs unless it was for the entire season. Carew probably doesn't matter - he is rumoured to be getting paid £50,000 a week. Nice if you can get it and I suspect he is getting that after agreeing to sign for them at the end of the season.

12.19pm: Thanks to CSM and TimC for this link to an article in The Times. Harry Redknapp acuses Steve Bruce of double standards over their 'attempts to sign Darren Bent' in 2009.

2.20pm: Gerard Houllier suggests Sunderland are telling fibs to make themselves look better with supporters. Does it matter? I bet there hasn't been a transfer done in years that was a complete surprise to the player when a club made an official bid.

3.00pm: Jean Makoun gets clearance to play but won't play on Saturday. He will however play against Wigan on Tuesday. What a horrible place to make your debut. But, if you are at Villa Park tomorrow, you'll see him introduced to the supporters.