Aston Villa v Bradford: It's either a match you will tell your grandchildren about or it's a very unhappy evening

Big Ron Atkinson calls it the "most dramatic football match" of his managerial career when we beat Tranmere on penalties at Villa Park in 1994. I remember it well and the final when we beat Manchester United.

And I remember that team. Mark Bosnich, Earl Barrett, Paul McGrath, Shaun Teale, Steve Staunton, Tony Daley, Graham Fenton, Andy Townsend, Kevin Richardson, Dalian Atkinson and Dean Saunders. Oh, what a team.


And tonight could be a defining match for Paul Lambert and while we are the clear favourites to win tonight, Bradford from Division Four, are the favourites to make it to the final.

It's going to take something special to win tonight, but only special based on form and recent performances. We can't go out in the second half 3-0 up and bottle it like we did against West Brom because Bradford will score. We have to go out in the second half and play exactly like we did for the first 45 minutes.

And that is assuming we score in the first half and score enough, but having scored twice against West Brom in the first half last time out, I think it fair of me to assume that we can put three past Bradford. Although writing that, it is also entirely fair for anyone to assume that we wont hold on to what we get, if we get it.

Something special is needed

So we come to today and I've written this next part before but tonight it will be put to the test; Villa Park has a role to play tonight. The atmosphere against a Premier League side can be worth a goal a game and tonight it has to be worth a few more.

So tonight will be different. It will be a full house and full an anticipation and as I've written above, we should win tonight. So here goes; we'll win and get through based on the atmosphere at Villa Park.

But if we don't get through, we can't fall back on the 'valiant effort' excuse or 'I'm proud of them after that performance'. If we don't get through, it was because of the duration of the two matches, we were simply not good enough.

But I think we will get through and I think we'll be fed stories about the atmosphere by the club over the next few weeks about how important a role the supporters play and they're not wrong, I just don't think people like getting told what they already know and it is a two way street.

Updates, team news and banter

So, this is my post. The players and the manager know what is needed from them tonight and it's to be a team. It's to stand at the edge, look over and jump together. There can be no hesitation.

More specifically, they have to control the ball. You might think that an obvious thing to write, but it's about not losing the ball. It's about taking time with it and making sure we have it and we don't give it away easily.

That is obvious, I know, but the ball is given away too easily at times and I don't understand why we would willingly give the ball away and invite pressure. If we keep the ball we can create something, if we don't have it, we can. Football isn't difficult.

Anyway, enough of the stating the obvious. Team news will come as we have it and updates here and on Twitter. I'm also preparing the site to be as optimised as possible so it is as quick as it can be for whatever happens later.

And for all those Bradford fans that booked hotels; good luck.