Spyin' Kop - Aston Villa

Posted by riisesleftpeg on August 9, 2007, 06:35:46 PM

With a glut of attacking options waltzing into Anfield, the debut of a designer goatee on our beloved Rafa and a massive brawl as a finishing touch to our pre-season programme, it’s clear to see that this season, Liverpool definitely mean business. We have power, we have pace, we have guile and now we have pizzazz baby! The first opponents in the path of the mighty red machine are the claret and blue clad lads from the second city. Reading the early season previews, a certain unbiased, well-informed pundit, the ever loveable Andy Gray seems to reckon we’ll be out of the title race by the end of August! Overwhelmed by the bitterness and in desperate need of balanced and less delusional views, I caught up with the boys at www.Villatalk.com, www.Footymad.net and was even graced by the opinions of a certain Damian Dugdale, the editor of the highly popular www.avfcblog.com for their thoughts on this tantalising match up!

But first we have some formalities to go over…



Barclays Premier League
Aston Villa vs Liverpool
Venue:  Villa Park, Birmingham
KO:  17:15



Preseason Form Guide
Liverpool – WWWWWDWD
Aston Villa – WWDDLWW

For all ye’ that risk the almighty (or the missus’s) wrath!
Aston Villa – 3/1
Liverpool – 11/10
Draw – 23/10

So with all that out of the way, let’s get down to business and find out what these lads have to say about the match.


Spyin’ Kop:  Now that you’re all comfortably seated, I’ve been reading the Villa fan boards and blogs and it seems a lot of you aren’t pleased with your summer transfer dealings so far?

Damian Dugdale: Put simply no. The club promised us world class signings and a significant transfer fund. While it may still happen, I can't help but feel they led us down the garden path and I really should have seen it coming. On the other hand, we've just got a new owner and new manager and we are in the rebuilding stage; it is going to take time, but the club didn't have to promise those things.

AstonVillaFC: In terms of who we've brought it, yes, I'm pleased. Despite the criticism of Harewood, we've got to give the lad a chance. We can't judge on last season as his confidence was obviously shot to bits. A change of club may bring out the best in him.

regularjohn: In quality? Yes, I believe that Nigel Reo Coker will add the strength and bite that our midfield has been missing for years and Harewood will make a fantastic squad player, 16 goals a season striker as backup? Yes please!

In quantity? Hell no! If we're to mount a realistic challenge on the top 6 this season we need a right back, a backup to Bouma, a decent backup/replacement for Tommy and a good right winger (assuming Ashley goes on the left)

kkr: As we stand currently we need a few bodies in to bolster the squad and provide competition as we are very short. I have no doubt that this will happen as MON has said he will have players in before the deadline, so roll on September 1st so we can cut the shit and focus on the football!

So far we have got rid of the dross and those not wiling to fight for their place in team which is good as nearly all the deadwood has gone now, but to replace this mass exodus i think MON will need to acquire a GK, 3 Defenders - probably 2 right back's and a centre back but perhaps vice-versa, with another midfielder or two ideally.

Of the two players we have acquired NRC is the stand out and is a player i hoped we would move for as i have admired him since his Wimbledon days. He is a natural leader, he is loud and confident and a physical presence and these are all traits that we either lacked or needed more of so he is a welcome addition. He has settled in well and looks to be enjoying himself again, so much so that i think he will have a great season and has an outside shot at the England squad for the Euro's(but with that clown in charge who knows!)

Our other signing this summer was a controversial one and one that many Villa fans didn't want. I however would say that the signing of Marlon Harewood could prove to be our best buy this summer(after MON is finished!) This is because not only do we get a big strong player with pace who has proved he can score in this league before, but him coming in to back up Carew/fight for his place allows us to develop the bright talents of Luke Moore and Gabby Agbonlahor further. Watch out for these two players this season, both are potential superstars in the making!

JulieB: LOL Not the best day to be asking this question, however objectively no not entirely
but NRC looks potentially to be a great signing, Harewood we'll just have to wait and see. Celtic fans did warn us when MON came that he would exasperate the hell out of us with his last minute transfer dealings and as anyone reading this message board today will gather, so far he hasn't disappointed!!!

peterems: Not yet, though I expect to be more pleased in a couple of weeks. However, some people are suicidal with grief about the failure to sign the entire Brazil team. It's about rising expectations following the demise of a tight-fisted old git and his replacement by an affable billionaire.

jt: NRC is a great buy, good young English player (not something that the Spanish scouse would know a lot about!) and will feature heavily for Villa this year. Harewood is interesting choice, as a Liverpool supporter said to me, "Did he pay you to join?" Not enough players in before the season with too little time to gel.


Spyin’ Kop: So following on from that, what are your expectations for this season?

Damian Dugdale:
This season is more about the manager getting his team together. Sure, I'd love a good cup run and maybe a final but if we can get through the season, see some decent football and the team getting better, with the odd signing or two in January, then I'd be happy for us to kick on for a UEFA Cup spot next season. Saying that, if we got it this year I'd be very happy.

VillaDave: Top four all the way mate, the well oiled machine is going to take the premiership by storm, you read it here first mate.

kkr: My expectations for this season are progression and consistency. Last season we finished 11th and went on two great undefeated runs to start and finish the season. Our middle stint really cost us though and that slump was the reason why we didn't finish in Europe. I expect a decent challenge on reaching a European place this season, either through the league or cups and i also think that if we get enough players in it could be a very distinct possibility.


Spyin’ Kop: Who do you think is/are your most important player(s)?

Damian Dugdale: Most Villa fans will say Gareth Barry but I'm going to say Martin Laursen. I'm saying Laursen because we just look better with him in the team; it would just be nice if he could stay injury free for more than 15 minutes. However, I'm hoping this will change next season to either Luke Moore or Nigel Reo-Coker.

VillaDave: You may be familiar with a small country in south east Europe mate, our greatest son harks from there, he's the best Bulgarian footballer to ever don a pair of studded boots mate and kick the pig skin, the man I talk of is the Maestro from Montana, the Ace up Martin's sleeve, Stan the Man Petrov. He is the best player in the premiership mate and you'll all be talking about him in the pub on Saturday mate, mark my words.

TrinityTom: Our most important player at this stage is Martin Laursen. If we don't make the right signings we will be relying on him staying fit. If he does then he will be a rock. Other than that I think Barry and Young will be the players who will have the most impact in the games we play.

kkr: Captain Gareth Barry was a revelation for us last season and i expect this to continue this season at an even greater level as he establishes his midfield partnership with NRC who imo could become equally as important as i think he will be the driving force behind our midfield.

Ashley Young would be the next player that i think is important to the team, his form at the end of last season, in the U21's and pre-season has been fantastic! If he plays like that all season that i also wouldn't put it past him sneaking into the England squad perhaps in the place of Lennon, SWP, Downing(doubt it), Dyer or Jenas.

Laursen if he stays fit is a brilliant defender and a rock at the back for us, i dont think we have lost when he has played in our team, which says something both about his ability and proneness to injury.

Carew leads the line fantastically well and is a brute of a player, its nice to know that when the ball goes up to our centre forward it will stick and we can build through him also. If we lost him to long term injury it would be a blow indeed, but not so much as other areas.


Spyin’ Kop:  … and your worst player(s)?

Grant(aka_eddie): I'm sorry to pick out just one question to answer but it's startled me a little.

I can’t think of a bad player...for the first time as a Villa fan there isn’t a player that i don’t rate or think can do a job for us.
We are threadbare in defence but our squad consists of some very good senior pros and some excellent young talent. Our 'worst' players are the kids but you can hardly hold a lack of experience against them, it isn’t that they're bad players as such, they just need time and some of them are already more than holding their own.

Harewood is the only other name that springs to mind but most people are prepared to give him a chance and as backup to Carew, Moore and Gabby he is potentially a good purchase.

kkr: Well MON has been trimming the squad a lot this summer and has got rid of most of the deadwood which is great, now he needs to get players in which I’m confident he will.

To answer the question worst players, well Delaney is expected to announce his retirement soon and I will wish him well but be glad to see the back of him as I think he is made of glass or something even more brittle. Our starting GK against you lot is the next player I wouldn't mind being shipped out also as he is quite poor, so that bodes well for Saturday!

VillaDave: None come to mind mate, they are all parts of the well oiled machine and to condemn one is to condemn the machine mate, you'll not catch me doing that.

regularjohn: Tough call, we've got a thin squad at the moment but i believe it to be packed with quality, I’m gonna put my neck out and say Laursen, not to do with his performances on the pitch as he is undoubtedly top quality, more to do with the amount of time he is likely to spend injured.

Spyin’ Kop: Going down nostalgia lane, do you have a particular memory of any previous meeting between our clubs?  Say something that happened to you that day or a decision you disagreed with?

B6bloke: Ronnie Rosenthal missing a sitter of an open goal. Ron PC Atkinson said on tele after that it was the first time he had ever been given anything by a Jew!! No offence just a quote!

TrinityTom: Other than the infamous miss by Rosenthal, my one memory is when we went 3 nil down inside 7 minutes during the mid nineties. To say Robbie Fowler was a thorn in our sides is an understatement.

PauloBarnesi: When we won 3-1 at Anfield. One of the finest moments under Gregory. Vassell scored a couple I seem to remember, and Gerrard did a horror tackle on Boateng which Houllier seemed not to see.

VillaDave: No looking back mate, this is a bright new era, you lads will be looking back in tears at our future meetings, mark my words.

Tricella: I have been very frustrated with Liverpool divers… Especially Owen when he played in Liverpool… But also Kewell… and a few others!


Spyin’ Kop: Any young up and coming players in the squad that we might not know about?

Damian Dugdale: You might not know too much about Craig Gardner but he is a huge talent and will probably be playing right back against you on Saturday, however his preferred position is central midfield. We've got high hopes for this lad and he could go all the way. Other than that we've got loads coming through, just none that will be making an impression this weekend.

AstonVillaFC: Apart from the sprinkling of old stalwarts we have, our team is full of up and coming youngsters that you may or may not know about, but I guarantee you'll know about them all come the final whistle on Saturday!

VillaDave: Ashley Young mate. You'll know all about him when he starts hurting your defence this season. Pray you don't get us in any cup competitions mate because you'll be out on your arses. Six premiership points have already gone our way mate.

PauloBarnesi: Craig Gardener who will play at right back is a midfielder who seemed to come on leaps and bounds and overtook Steven Davies last season. He scored a wonder goal at the end of the last season against Bolton. We have a young Hungarian Zoltan Stiebler who plays on the left, he might make it to the bench, but he seems to one for the future. Oh and have you heard about Gabby?

JulieB: Luke Moore, Craig Gardner, Gary Cahill.. You'll have probably heard of Gabby and Ashley Young but they all made mincemeat of the Italians on Saturday..one thing for sure, our team is full of bright English talent and a lot has come through Villa's academy. Flip we've got half the England U21 squad at Villa these days!

jt: Loads, none of them train with the Spanish U19's!! Steiber looks to be a good player, along with some of the other Academy players


Spyin’ Kop: What sort of line-up will be put out against us?

Damian Dugdale: It's Martin O'Neill so expect five in the middle with one man up front. Some might say it's 4-3-3 but you'll see two of those lads up front tracking back as if it was 4-5-1, which it probably will be. I actually think we play better that way too, so I hope he actually does play that way come Saturday.

NAJVilla: Strong one. Very pacy (hope your defence is quick otherwise we might just manage to run rings round you). First 11 is particularly strong. Its strength in depth we lack.

VillaDave: A well oiled machine. Martin knows mate. You're Rafa spying on us aren't you mate, you're bricking it mate.

kkr: I reckon a 433/451 formation of -

--------------------Taylor--------------------
Mellberg---Cahill------Laursen---Bouma
------------------------------------------------
-----Petrov--------NRC--------Barry------
Gabby---------------------------------Young
----------------Carew*/Moore--------------

*Carew might be injured, but hope fully not and if that's the case then I’d say it’s a toss-up between Moore and Gabby with regards to who starts.


Spyin’ Kop: Do you have any favourite/best chant(s) and perhaps any that require an explanation?

Damian Dugdale: Holte Enders in the Sky is my favourite; you'll hear it for sure on Saturday.

jt: In the Liverpool slums, they look in the dustbin for something to eat, they find a dead rat and they think it's a treat, in the Liverpool slums.

Explanation - The people of Liverpool are poor, and like to enjoy a nice rat when spotted!!

Stateside: This needs an explanation.... We all hate Blues.... is not about Everton!

kkr: Goomba, Goomba, Goomba!!! It is a chant i would like to get started for Harewood because of his dinosaur good looks!

JulieB: I think "We've nicked the Scouser seats" might be heard from the North Stand on Saturday because Away support has now been moved to the Doug Ellis stand so you're not going to be behind the goal in the North stand.


Spyin’ Kop: Mystic Meg time, where do you predict Aston Villa -  and Liverpool to finish in the Premier League?

Damian Dugdale: Liverpool have third in the bag but I think they can steal 2nd. It all comes down to Chelsea and how teams play against them. Last season we saw some teams playing five in midfield against them (us included) and they stole a point. If others follow suit this season they'll drop more points than they expect and you can finish 2nd. Villa; we'll finish 8th; basically it's a season of sorting out.

kkr: Liverpool have strengthened well and made some good buys but i dont think you will push for the title just yet so ill say 3rd.

Villa it depends on how many more players we sign and of what quality. If we get the right players in then I think we will be around 5th-8th, without them 8th-10th.

PauloBarnesi: Liverpool will come 2-3. Personally I would prefer them to win the league, but Man U seems stronger than ever.

Isgill88: Villa, depending on new signings, anywhere between 6-12th. Liverpool, I'm backing you to go all the way if you get a good start to the season and perform against the big teams. I think Utd will struggle with no defence, and I can see you beating Chelsea this year.

VillaDave: Villa top 4, Liverpool - who knows, just hope we don't take your CL place!


Spyin’ Kop: Which Liverpool player will you fear the most?

Damian Dugdale: On his day Gerrard although it used to be Owen and before him Fowler. They used to score against us for fun.

Jmc1: For this game Mascherano but I hear he won’t be fit in time.

NorthfieldVilla: Obvious...Steven Gerrard and I hear he is going to be played in his preferred position.

CVByrne: Benayoun, he'll do great for you lot this season.

jt: Torres, I think he'll have a blinding season. I'd say Gerrard, but after that limp wristed punch he threw I've lost all respect for him.

Itdoesntmatterwhatthissay:  Kuyt, Liverpool got a bargain in such an intelligent player who I think is just going to get better and better.

Trinity Tom: Gerrard, who else? He is the one player who you have who can destroy the worlds best on his own. You have many quality players but I really can't say any of them put a sense of fear in me in the way that Gerrard does.

isgill88: If I was Rafa, I'd start Ryan Babel, and let him run fast at our inexperienced/lack of right back. I fear that happening.

remotevillan: All of them in recent years! No there’s no point fearing opposition players. If their better their better. I like Alonso. He’s a beautiful footballer to watch, a real thoroughbred.

PauloBarnesi:
Crouch, obviously Gerrard is without a doubt a world class talent!


Spyin’ Kop: Finally chaps (and Julie!) - Care to predict the score?

AstonVillaFC: Don't mind if I do, old boy. 3-2 to ... sorry, gotta go ... :)

NAJVilla:
Head - 1-1
Heart - 2-1
Heaven - 3-0 Gabby Hat-trick

jt: A nice relaxed 1-1 draw to open both team’s season.

]isgill88: Fingers crossed, we won't lose. Honestly, I'm gona say 1-1. I think our fast strikers will cause a few problems for you.

JulieB: You didn't play well against Feyenoord and maybe haven't gelled as a team yet with so many new faces... My heart say's we might nick it 2-1, but I'll go for a 1-1 draw.

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