Aston Villa at Manchester City: Live updates, team news, banter and speculation

Money can buy you the Premier League as well as happiness and a don't care attitude

I love football at Christmas - it kicks off at almost normal times. I mean, there is no 8pm kick off on a Tuesday and for us today, it's almost like a good old fashioned Saturday, but on a Tuesday and with beer and leftovers.

But it is going to be a tough match, but when a team goes out and spends £300,000,000.00 in three seasons, you are always going to have trouble, because that team is clearly going after the title and for that type of money, you can buy the title.


It is wrong that I can write that also, but nobody is breaking the rules. The owner of Manchester City is committed to making his club the champions and he has the funds that enable him to make that possible - he has the funds to make that quite easy.

So, that is why today is going to be tough. It is going to be tough because Manchester City now have a manager that is better than the one they had before and a group of players that are very close to winning the League. I say very close, because I don't think they will win the League for a while and I think it will only happen once they've spent a fair chunk of more change and have a new manager.

The Match

So, with the match just a few hours away, this is the page I'll update with team news and if we get any more news or speculation other than what is below, I'll add it as updates and for fun, I'll be updating Twitter all day too, as well as during the match.

Odds: Manchester City v Aston Villa

Speculation

This ugly rumour about Joey Barton has raised it's head again and I've got to tell you, I hope there is no truth in it. I'm all for second chances and for seeing the best in someone, but Joey Barton is a thug. Joey Barton shouldn't be allowed to play football again and there is something else wrong that he can still play.

So, I don't expect the manager to say anything as there is probably no truth in it but if he is going after him, I'd ask him to {rokbox title=|Joey Barton :: A thug that should never be allowed to play for Aston Villa| text=|watch this video so he is fully aware of the player he is interested in|size=|640 505| album=|demo|}http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NupDUzb97U8&autoplay=1{/rokbox}, if all the speculation is true.

The last bit of speculation is all about Frederic Piquionne and it isn't the first time his name has been mentioned.

This is what I wrote in January and my view hasn't changed and seeing as he isn't exactly scoring for fun at West Ham, I can't see this happening.

Piquionne is currently on loan at Portsmouth who are in meltdown, so he'll probably join the first club to guarantee his salary, but it won't be us. Or actually, I hope it won't be us. It's not that I'm sure he wouldn't be able to do some sort of a job, it's that I know how long O'Neill spends on evaluating a player and he would simply be wasting his time targeting a player that is 32 years old this year.

I could see us going for Jay Bothroyd, but that is just me adding three and four together and getting sixty-one. Read nothing in to it.

So, kick off is a few hours away and we'll bring updates, but look at the odds - the bookmakers get it wrong, but not as often as they get it right. Let's just hope for something special today and not a sign of Robert Pires.

Update: Question of the day

We have set up a question of the day; do Aston Villa fans want to see Joey Barton in an Aston Villa shirt here. We have to put it there, because if we put it here, it is another script on the page and it causes issues for users using Internet Explorer 7 - so to vote, click here.

Update: Team news

Brad Friedel, Eric Lichaj, Carlos Cuellar, James Collins, Stephen Warnock, Stewart Downing, Barry Bannan, Nigel Reo-Coker, Stiliyan Petrov, Marc Albrighton and Gabby Agbonlahor.

On the bench: Brad Guzan, Ciaran Clark, Johanthan Hogg, Fabian Delph, The Fonz, Robert Pires and Chris Herd.