Match Preview: Aston Villa at Reebok Stadium

After Wigan got beaten by Spurs 9-1 earlier this season they had Sunderland the week after, who at the time would have been full of confidence having beaten Arsenal the week before.

They won 1-0 and did what they had to do. Our match against Bolton, for me anyway, has away win written all over it, because it is sort of what happens when a club like ours get a spanking; we go out next time and win - as if it was owed.


Owen Coyle made a mistake, in my opinion, when he left Burnley for Bolton and while he probably thought his chances of continuing as a Premier League manager to be much higher with Bolton and he was probably right, change at this stage of the season isn't necessarily a good thing, for a club or manager and is usually only considered when something is desperately needed, like needing to stay up.

Bolton were in a precarious position in January and I fancy Coyle will keep them up (but I thought Megson would too, just) but he isn't the type of manager to come in and make an immediate impact. His style of football takes time and it doesn't happen overnight and recent results, getting beaten 4-0 by Manchester United, Spurs and Sunderland, 2-0 by Everton, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal sort of suggest he is still finding his feet.

He will find it as he is a decent manager and what he achieved at Burnley was fantastic. His win rate as a manger is also very good. At Falkirk it was 63.16%, at St. Johnstone he managed 51.43% and at Burnley he managed 42.48%. So far with Bolton it is 31.25% - but take nothing away from him, like I said, he is still finding his feet.

The race for fourth

It is well within the realms of possibility that we can still finish fourth. As things stand today, we are seven points off fourth with seven games to go. If we were to win those remaining seven games and pick up 21 points, it is possible that Spurs, Manchester City, Liverpool and Everton will drop enough to allow us in. In fact, I'd say if we won the remaining seven games, fourth would be ours.

But it would mean a tremendous effort and quite a bit of luck and while some might say it isn't going to happen, it could and while there remains a chance it is possible, we have to hope.

Early team news

This, you would think, would be the easiest thing in the world to predict but it isn't. Last time out, I really did think we would be resting Milner and/or Petrov and Dunne but it turned out we rested Downing and King Carlos.

I thought we'd be resting those players because the manger thought it important enough to send them off for scans and I just thought that maybe, if a player is at the stage of having scans, he might also be at the stage of needing a little break, so predicting who will or won't be available for this match, is difficult.

I will take a little look at Big Brad though. Did you know that he has played 221 consecutive Premier League games? I didn't know it was that much, but more on it here from the guys over at

I think it fair to say that he will start, probably along with Gabby, Milner, Webcam, Petrov, Collins and Warnock. I think Dunne might get a break, there is every chance that Carew is not going to make it after he complained of back pain after the last match and there is a chance Luke Young might keep his place at left back. Team news will be confirmed as soon as we hear about it on Saturday.


I can't see anything other than an away win for this match. It is easy to write that but it is often after results like the one last week that it puts things into perspective and while there are no easy games in this league, we really should beat Bolton and for that reason alone and because every player on the pitch on Saturday will run for everything with even more determination than normal, I have to say this is an away win and today, you will get 11/8 on that result - which I think is a very good price, all things considered.