Come on you Villa boys!

The time for speculation is over. The time for debate is over. It's now time to simply get behind Martin O'Neill and his men.

It may be hard to dispel the Stamford Bridge ghosts, but I hope that our manager will remind his charges that their record against Chelsea is - putting that result aside - more than respectable. Chelsea are a better side than Villa, with better players than Villa. But they are beatable.


To win will require the manager and his coaching staff to be tactically and motivationally on top of their game. It will require every player to accept responsibility, believe in his ability, work tirelessly and go for it. It will require the London Holte End to be a twelfth man for more than 90 minutes.

Will Martin O'Neill pick the right side? Will he set it up the right way? Will he get the players "in the zone" and keep them there? Will he use his bench creatively, intelligently and at the right time? Will he ensure that from 70 minutes, when the game is getting stretched, we still have our pace and energy left to hurt the Blues?

I have no idea. All I know is that it's out of our hands, and we just have to trust the gaffer and his players, and offer them every ounce of support we are famous for.

The prize is a glittering one. Two cup finals in a season would be a magnificent achievement for this relatively new side. And if you can beat Chelsea at Wembley, then you can beat Spurs at Wembley (with apologies to Pompey fans). I hope Stan Petrov is already visualising his fingers on that pot. I am.

Perhaps, as I mentioned in a previous post, the psychology will work in our favour. Perhaps Chelsea will see this as the shoe-in the bookies see. Perhaps they'll do their Kings Road swagger and stroll and leave a chink in the door. Unlikely, I know - but if it happens, our players will need to be a yard quicker, a millisecond sharper and want it a few degrees more to make the most. They can do that. They can. Can't they?

I was thinking of working out what the key roles are today. But it's pointless. Chelsea have quality everywhere - you push the bubble down in one place and it just pops up somewhere else. So unless every player has their game of the season, this is a lost cause. Carew, if selected, must be the menacing, unplayable Carew we see too little of. Gabby must be the alert, electrifying Gabby we see not enough of - and leave his Keystone-Cops-finishing boots at Bodymoor.

Ashley Young must make every cross a blinder. The wingers must work the flanks relentlessly and become second full backs when we're defending. Petrov and Milner must track Lampard's runs, deny him space and stop him getting into the box. The balls out of defence must hit Villa feet and be held. Give Chelsea the ball over and over again, and sooner or later you'll pay.

But we've shown we can do all that. The problem is, we haven't shown we can put it all together and do it for 90 minutes. And that's what has to happen today.

This is a tough ask. And it's not enough to avoid another drubbing. We need more than that. We need a shot of belief in the arm. We need the tabloids raving about Villa on Sunday morning. We need Villans locked in all over the Midlands celebrating a landmark win until the small hours.

I do a football accumulator each week - and I do it with my head and not my heart. For the first time, I hope I lose this weekend. I want Betfair to take my money, and I want Villa to be the reason.

We can argue and bicker on here all we like about Martin O'Neill and his footballing and managerial philosophy. By all means, let's continue that (balanced!) debate on Sunday.

But ultimately all we are is supporters who just want one thing - the same thing. So for now, it's time to dream. It's time to believe. And it's time to support.

Up the Villa!

Tear up the Pitch is a competition to find the fastest out there in the UK. It’s part of Master Speed training from Nike Football+, which allows young footballers to learn speed from the best in the business. Are you fast enough and can you get to Aston Park Pavilion on Monday night? Click here for more information.