I'll start with the polite, I hope you all had a nice Christmas and your families are well and healthy. But now I muse move swiftly along to the match against Burton Albion today. Because that is what is really important.

And I wasn't sure if we had ever played Burton Albion in a competitive game before, so I had to check. And it turns out that this will be the first time. Maybe this is one of the moments you'll remember forever; that day we scored seven or that day we got spanked. The first time we ever played Burton Albion.

Maybe. I mean, on paper we should win today. In fact, it's my bet of the day if I was having a bet. And yes, I'll be having a bet even though the odds are not good. That's how much of a banker bet this match is for me today.

But more on that in a minute, we have news. You've probably all read that Gary Gardner has signed a new contract. The manager has explained it in such a way that he wasn't earning as much as the others and he thought it fair. Me, I'm all for Gardner getting an extended contract because I'm not one of those that was abusing Baker a couple of seasons back and now singing his praises. I'm all for Gardner getting a new contract for lots of reasons but one will never be that he wasn't earning enough.

That can be a reason, but I never want to hear it from the manager. These players are all paid too much and I don't just mean Aston Villa players, but football players in general. But the game is broken and it's okay that it's broken apparently. But I'm very happy that Gardner has signed a new contract because one day I believe he will be a very important player for us, just like Baker will be.

Team news and updates

And there is a chance that neither will make an appearance today. They're both fit, but the manager has hinted at changes over the Christmas break to keep players fresh. I'm not a big believer that this is really an issue with all the gear and information Clubs have today but if managers like to say it, why not let them say it.

Sure, I accept that players and us as humans can become tired, but there are foods and treatments and most importantly there is desire and will. But 90 minutes can be very stressful to the body and they need to have breaks or just play 45 minutes instead.

And I suspect there will be some more news between now and kick off as well as the odd link to be shared.

Bet of the day

And we'll find out the team in a few hours and I've played a bit today with the post to make it a little fuller. So I'll be back then, but I have a bet of the day for you and it's a little different, but I think it's a good one.

First, it's not an accumulator, my bet is all singles and it's on the following teams; Chelsea, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Newcastle, Derby and West Ham. Now, you can bet what you want, but I'm going to put £10 on each team to win. And I'll be placing my bet at Unibet here mostly because I like the platform and the odds are very good too.

Probably worth pointing out that I mention Unibet because I've joined their affiliate scheme. It works likes this; if you click the link above and don't have an account with Unibet and you sign up, deposit money and bet with them, I'll likely make money. It's something I have chosen to do and it's not me selling a post or you seeing ads pop up because you've visited this site. It's a decision I have made and have full control of. It's just a way to generate additional money in a way that I hope isn't too intrusive.

Author: Damian
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Damian started The Villa Blog as a passion project quite a few years ago while he was living in South Africa. Now living in Sweden, it continues. He's originally from Chasetown and grew up when supporting Villa meant there was a real chance of silverware at the start of every season.