Aston Villa v Everton: Live text, banter, video, link dumping and your man of the match

The results yesterday, or should that be the Arsenal result yesterday, now means we have to win this game and I'll predict right now; if Martin O'Neill sends them out to play in a 4-4-2 formation, we won't win and we'll likely revert to a 4-3-3 in the second half and do exactly what we did against Spurs.

I'm sorry to be so straight to the point about it, it's just my opinion and based on Everton likely to be playing five in the middle or 4-4-1-1 with the 1 in front of the striker dropping back to help the midfield and act as a middle man for the striker and recent results when we have played 4-4-2.

Now, I want to be wrong, I really do. I want it to be a case of the team have finally gotten used to this out of date formation and they're bringing it back into fashion and that they're going to play it so well against Everton today, that you're going to see the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United start to play this way.

I just don't think it will happen and we were lucky against Manchester United because they played three up and gave us the extra man in midfield.

A while ago, I defended my position on James Milner and basically wrote that it could be taking him time to get used to 4-5-1, but for those of you that are regular here, you'll know that when it did come good for him, I also wrote that too. Well, you'll notice I've not written anything about him recently and that in itself should speak volumes for our most expensive player ever.

So, as and when we get some team news, we'll put it but if it's two up front I'll be all unhappy because I've got an Everton fan coming round for the football and then a BBQ and he is also hoping we play two up front.

So, until then, banter away. I'm actually quite nervous about this match, because it really is make or break and if Martin O'Neill decides to stick with 4-4-2, which even if he changes I think it might be too late, then it's broken.

Sorry to be so negative, I am just convinced it will happen. However, I'd love to be wrong this time and I'd love us to beat Everton today playing 4-4-2 but it's just not 1999 any more.

An Everton Video

Man of the Match

After the match, a poll will be going up featuring all the players that started and you'll get to vote on man of the match. This poll will run until some time tomorrow, basically about an hour after I get up out of bed and it will be used as the man of the match in the post-mortem.

Twitter Updates

Just because I have an Everton fan and actually a Liverpool fan round today, I'll be doing most of the updates during the match via the Aston Villa Blog Twitter page here. I'll also be coming on to the comments, but actual updates on the page might not be as many as they usually are.

Wild Speculation from the Sunday Papers

The News of the World, okay I've gone and done it now, are suggesting that if we don't finish in the top four this season, that Martin O'Neill has to have a clear out. The players mentioned on the list are Gareth Barry, because he is leaving and Nigel Reo-Coker, John Carew, Nicky Shorey, Marlon Harewood, Craig Gardner and Zat Knight.

We all accept that Barry is off this summer if we don't finish in the top four but of that other list, most will be unhappy about Carew getting a mention, so soon after O'Neill has sung his praise too and for me, the one I don't want to see leaving, is Craig Gardner. The others can go - but only if it means we bring in better. I must hold my hands up though and say I'd be unhappy if Reo-Coker left.

But, why is this rubbish? well, basically, the basis for the article is the wage bill is too high. The thing is, Lerner might be American, but he knows a thing or two about sports and the importance of paying for squad players. American football teams have position covered four deep and while that isn't something that happens in our game, it won't be a surprise to Lerner to find out that we actually need to strengthen this summer if we are to finish in the top four.

Martin O'Neill talks, we listen

Randy knows that to be up there is exceptionally hard work. We know what we've got to do, although I agree with him that this is not the time to be putting the club in financial jeopardy for a short-term gain. With a bit of luck, we'll be in Europe next season and we'll attract more quality to the club.
Martin O'Neill, April 11th 2009

Team News

Taken from the BBC preview page so I'm not claiming any of it as 100% accurate until we actually see the team Martin O'Neill picks.

Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor is doubtful with a virus while forward Emile Heskey, skipper Martin Laursen and Wilfred Bouma are all still out. Defender Carlos Cuellar is suffering from a back problem so Zat Knight could earn a recall alongside Curtis Davies.

Aston Villa (from): Friedel, Guzan, L Young, Davies, Knight, Cuellar, Shorey, Milner, Barry, Sidwell, Petrov, A Young, Reo-Coker, Gardner, Carew, Agbonlahor, Delfouneso.

While I am a fan of 4-5-1 with the players we have, one of the most important players in that formation for me is Gabby Agbonlahor because of his pace and ability to terrorise defenders. It's not that Carew isn't a very good striker, his goal to game ratio tells us that he is, it's that he's not the fastest of players and I fear all we're going to see is long balls, if he is the lone striker in a 4-5-1.

My other fear is, even if we revert to 4-5-1, it might be too late in the season for us to hope that it's going to be just like it was when we were playing 4-5-1. Still, we'll find out in an about 30 minutes.

Actual Team News

Friedel; L Young, Knight, Davies, Shorey; Milner, Barry, Petrov, A Young; Agbonlahor, Carew. Subs: Sidwell, Salifou, Guzan, Gardner, Delfouneso, Reo-Coker, Albrighton.

Looks like 4-4-2. I don´t know what to say that isn´t above.

Everton Team News

Howard, Hibbert, Baines, Lescott, Jagielka, Cahill, Neville, Osman, Fellaini, Pienaar, Jo. Subs: Nash, Van Der Meyde, Castillo, Saha, Jacobsen, Rodwell, Gosling.

Can anyone tell me what the formation will be?