Aston Villa in the FA Cup at Crystal Palace: Live text, updates and banter

Yesterday was a long day and I've woken this morning and not found a bacon sandwich on my bedside table. To say I was a little surprised would be an understatement, but it has set me up for the rest of the day.

You see, the FA Cup is full of surprises. I was surprised that Derby lost and I was also surprised that Stoke managed a draw, but I wouldn't be surprised if they won in the reply at home, I really wouldn't.


Before we get into this match and seeing as I just mentioned that Stoke have a replay, that is the one outcome we really do not want to of this. You see, a replay would mean we play again on February 24th, just a few days before a quite important match. A replay really is something we don't want.

Martin O'Neill on Webcam

Martin O'Neill from the Daily Star
I just don’t agree or subscribe to this idea that Ashley has not had the same season this time. Maybe being occasionally overlooked by England – and the fact Milner has done so well – has made people assume Ashley’s not playing as well.

I’m sorry but it’s simply not true. From what I know and I have seen, Ashley has been every bit as good this year. Believe me, I’m just as happy with him now as I was last season – and he’s every bit as integral and essential to this team.

I mention the above because I think this game is set up for Webcam. Before United had Nani sent off it seemed to me that we were looking to play in Webcam as that game was set up for him and I think this game is going to play out exactly as we would like.

Palace are going to come at us and like us, they don't want a replay either. The best chance they have of winning this match is today, so they are going to come at us and that is going to be good for us. However, they could sit back and try to do exactly what we do and if they do, then we are going to need to take the chances as and when they come.

I know what I would prefer and while one would be more fun and I think more suited to our style of play, I think whatever happens today, we have enough to get our name in the hat.

Early Team Prediction

So, this is where I am making my prediction. I don't think Stan will play and I think we will see Delph get another crack and I'm also not sure Warnock will play. In fact, I don't think either should play - they both need as much rest as possible and they shouldn't be risked today.

I think we will see Luke continue to play on the left; Collins and Dunne in the middle and Cuellar on the right. I wouldn't be surprised to see Guzan start today, as compensation for missing out on the final and while that is the wrong reason, I can just see it happening.

So, that was the easy part. The rest is a tough call, simply because we don't know what O'Neill is going to do formation wise. Rather than continue his favoured 442 against United by bringing in Delfouneso or starting with Carew, he reverted to a 451. Now, that could be lack of confidence in Carew or Delfouneso to start on that particular day, or it could be that he was playing safe, or it could be that he has seen the light.

It could be anything or nothing and while we all have views, none of us really know what O'Neill is going to do today but seeing as there is a chance Gabby won't make it, I think O'Neill will go with one up front and I think it is a smart move. In fact, I think it very important that if Gabby isn't 100% that he gets a rest.

Prediction Time

So, we have no real idea who is going to play or what formation the manager will start with, but it would be interesting if you made your team predictions below, not on who you would like to start, but with who and how you think the manager will go.

I am going to make one prediction though. You see, whoever starts and in whatever formation, the work rate and determination will be second to none and with the quality we have, I see nothing other than a win for us today.

Live updates, twittering and team news as we get it. Now, I'm off to make my own bacon sandwich.

Team News

Brad Friedel, Luke Young, Ricardo Dunne, James Collins, Stephen Warnock, Stewart Downing, Webcam Young, James Milner, Fabian Delph, Stan Petrov and Emile Heskey.

Subs: Steve Sidwell, John Carew, Nathan Delfouneso, Curtis Davies, Brad Guzan, Habib Beye and King Carlos Cuellar.