Blackburn v Aston Villa: Semi final preview, odds and prediction

This is a big match and as such, it deserves a little build up, so it is getting a preview post so we can all get a little excited over it.

Tomorrow night will not determine if we go to Wembley or not, but by the end of tomorrow night we will either be confident or not very confident and for me, if a team wins, they will have much more confidence going into the second leg. Stating the obvious I know but this is an important match.


I say it is important, because neither manager were that bothered by the FA Cup match. We saw a total of 16 changes on the pitch and while both teams wanted to win going into the match, both managers were really not that bothered as tomorrow night is what it is all about.

You see, both managers know that a 2-0 in this match makes it extremely difficult for the other team and both managers know that a 2-0 win is more than possible - hell, it could even be more and that would make it even more difficult for the other team.

Both managers also know that silverware this season would save their jobs. Okay, Sam Alllardyce knows he has a job for life as his supporters have lower expectations, but Martin O'Neill knows he needs to pull something out of his hat sooner rather than later.

A trophy would mean he gets another crack at top four, no questions asked and it might also fill his players with confidence, although if I'm honest, silverware would probably just let our lot think they didn't need to do anything else this season, but that is an extremely cynical side of me and I am probably wrong.

Lessons

We lost at Blackburn in September but only after going ahead early and conceding a very late goal and Sam Allardyce will have very specific ideas on what they have to do to repeat that, or more specifically, to stop us from scoring.

Tomorrow night is about not thinking it is all wrapped up if we score very early on and it's about concentrating for 95 minutes, to make sure they don't score. We seem to do better away from home and I for one will be more than happy if we can leave Blackburn tomorrow with a victory as it will set the match up perfectly for us at Villa Park on January 20th.

If I'm honest however, I'm not convinced either manager has the balls to go out tomorrow and try and put this game out of reach, but I believe that is what is really needed. It could happen, but I'm not convinced one or the other will, as there is too much resting on it. I believe our players could, which is a positive thing, I just don't think they will.

Early Team News

Only doubt for us is James Milner who has hurt his foot. Apart from that, everyone is available and most are rested. Diouf is out for Blackburn for three matches which means he will be available for the return leg at Villa Park.

Don't expect much to change from the match before the FA Cup victory over Blackburn apart from maybe Milner out and Young back in. Despite all the changes for the Blackburn match, it was reactive, not proactive from O'Neill, so expect everything to go back to his favourite eleven. It's not a criticism, it is the just the way of the O'Neill.

Betting Odds

You'll get 9/5 for Blackburn and 6/4 for us at Paddypower here, which even though we are away, makes us favourites for this match. The bet you want to have though, if you are going to have a bet is on us and Manchester United to make the final - you'll double your money.

First Leg Prediction

I was quite confident going into the match in September and I got egg on my face, so you'd think I would have learnt a lesson and I have. However, I am confident again going into this match and while I'm fairly sure we will have the upper hand for most of it, I can't see us winning.

If I were a betting man, I'd be predicting a score draw for tomorrow night and while it might not be exactly what either team is after, at the end of ninety minutes, both managers will be happy that they didn't lose.