Make or break for Aston Villa against Tottenham Hotspur today

If, by the end of today we are fifth, then that is exactly where we deserve to be and if anyone wants to look at one game, to see if it really was a defining game in the season, then this one might very well be it.

If we are fifth at the end of the day and we continue our slump, we've currently gone six games without winning, then well, there is going to be a lot of talk about why it happened, when it began and how it could have been prevented. Big if mind.


I know there is going to be one or two that disagree, but just as many won't, but when we went back to 4-4-2 we started to falter - our game changed and the players were effected and while, to some extent, our momentum carried us forward when we did start to play 4-4-2, it was only a matter of time before it started to end up like this.

I distinctly remember, although I'm not going to link to it, posting about James Milner and how I was quite sure he'd come good as soon as he got used to playing five in midfield and you know what - he did start to come good and five in midfield started to suit him. Now, when we need to chase a game - we put him to right back, mostly because it's taking him time to get used to playing four in the midfield again and his game is now different, his momentum wasn't strong enough to change tracks, he needs to build it up again.

You can't doubt his work rate and I'm not, I'm just saying that during the back end of November, December and January, when we were playing five in midfield and he had gotten used to it, we were better and he was too. Hell, even Ashley Young was better and he's struggled a bit since coming back and since having to play in a four man midfield.

Gabby was also better as the lone attacker in my opinion and all you seem to see him do these days is exactly what Heskey is doing - I've actually seen them both run for the same ball and almost nearly both get it. It took Gabby time to get used to it and much like Milner and Young, it's taking him time to get used to four in midfield and him having a partner up front.

However, that learning curve could come to an end today and it could all fall into place and we have to hope it does. We can't revert back to five in midfield, only because then the last few weeks would have been a mistake and waste and it might actually take more time for them to get used to five again. It might not, but it's a big risk.

Martin O'Neill has to stick to his guns now, he has literally made the decision and stuck by it and I fancy he won't change, but if he wanted some assurance that it might work, we just have to look at our last outing.

We played the worst half of football under Martin O'Neill against Manchester City and it was only when we reverted to three and three that we took control of a game - a clear indication that the formation, coupled with the work ethic he has instilled, playing 4-5-1/4-3-3, might be better for us. But at the same time, can anyone see Martin O'Neill changing? I can't, but I guess I can hope.

I have to hope, which is why this could be a defining game. They've had the break, they should be fully recharged and ready for whatever Spurs can bring to us and we should be ready to win this game. We could also hope that it has all come together and 4-4-2 just clicks today.

It's fair to accept that changing around the formation could be the reason why it changed for us and it's fair to say that it might take players a bit of time to get used to new formations, so today. it's fair to say it could all click again.

We'll be doing Twitter updates during the match and later this afternoon we'll be doing a live blog and we'll bring you team news and any banter we've found, but for today, we need to be back to our best, otherwise I fear this might be the game that we look back at and say that was the game when we knew it was over, or it could be the game where we found our belief again.

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