Spyin' Kop - Aston Villa (H)

Posted by Robotforaday on March 21, 2009, 01:40:03 PM

Liverpool v Aston Villa - 4.00pm, 22 March 2009

Aston Villa
Founded 1874
European Cup winners: 1982
League Champions: 1894, 1896, 1897, 1899, 1910, 1981
FA Cup winners: 1887, 1895, 1897, 1905, 1913, 1920, 1957
League Cup winners: 1961, 1975, 1977, 1994, 1996

Famously, Birmingham has more miles of canals than Venice. Only one conclusion can be drawn from this fact: Birmingham shits on Venice when it comes to canals. If this simple fact doesn't cheer up Villa fans, then the fact that they managed to dodge an ownership bullet and got a respected and responsible owner in Randy Lerner, not to mention the fact that they've fought their way to a strong league position, really ought to give them somethng to smile about. But have they hit the glass ceiling? Has a lack of confidence started to knock their belief that they can break into the Champions League? 7 matches without a win, including the matches against CSKA Moscow that caused them to drop out of the UEFA Cup, certainly make the world look a little different from the days not all that long ago when Villa were in 3rd place.

I headed over to www.villatalk.com where some of the fans seemed to have become a little negative about their chances against us and their chances of overtaking Arsenal once again. But in general, a good bunch of people with a good bunch of answers, once you skip over the to-be-expected recitation of "in your liverpool slums" and frankly hilarious jokes about Gerrard's recent involvement with our court system. Anyway, here's hoping Villa can recover their belief and ability to win when they meet Manchester United (although not before).

Thanks to Blackcountryvilla, PompeyVillan, sonic_bouma, PatrickCousens, TheSufferingVilla, roger_moore, The_Rev, kurtsimonw, VillaAndLoyal and LancsVillan for their responses.

How have you found the season so far? Would you say that it's been a good year for Aston Villa?
PatrickCousens: It's been the best season we've had for some time, assuming we end up in the top 6 again which I'm sure we will. If we do get 4th it will be a phenomenal achievement. Regardless, I think we've shown that we're an upwardly mobile young side who could upset the stranglehold of the big 4 over the next few seasons.

The_Rev: Anti climatic. Its sad, but I think this year the Villa fans have realised that unless you support one of Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea, 5th is probably as good as it is going to get.

PompeyVillan: It's been a really enjoyable season. However, I think given our cup exits and our wee wobble at the moment we won't be able to tell whether it's been a good year until the end of the season.

sonic_bouma: The 3-2 game against Everton kinda sums up our season for me. Was on a massive high for ages and now its likely weve pissed it all away. Lets hope we rise again.

TheSufferingVilla: It's been a rollercoaster ride, obviously we have been dissapointed with our form in recent weeks but if you had offered us level on points with Arse at this stage back at the beginning of the season we would have gladly taken it.

LancsVillan: It's been a good season for Villa for sure, though we have to remember that season's don't finish at Xmas.

kurtsimonw: Sitting in 5th place, level on points with 4th place Arsenal, at this stage of the season is very impressive. I predicted 7th at the beginning of the season, so it really has been a tremendous year for AVFC.

Do you still think you can achieve a Champions League place?
PatrickCousens: Can? Obviously - we're equal on points with Arsenal and I'd take our run in over theirs. However my gut feeling at this moment is that they'll have a really good end to season and I'm not convinced we'll be able to rediscover our form of a few months back. Liverpool aren't necessarily safe either, but that result and performance against United last weekend ought to ensure that FSW takes the Premier League seriously for another few weeks.

The_Rev: No

BlackcountryVilla: No.

PompeyVillan: It's not impossible, but it seems unlikely now. We'll have to relive the form of earlier in the season and hope Arsenal stutter a little to achieve it.

sonic_bouma: No...Arsenal have players back and i expect them to be 6 points clear soon after the next two games.

TheSufferingVilla: Anythings possible, we've hit a patch of horrible form if we come out of it and hit a patch of great form why not?

kurtsimonw: No. Arsenal just don't seem beatable, while our trips to Anfield and Old Trafford will finish off our chances I reckon.

LancsVillan: Yes of course we can,it's going to be harder than we might have wanted having blown that lead, but it's still a possibility

VillaAndLoyal: Definitely not, no.

Who are the Villa players we should be looking out for on Sunday? Any potential stars we might not be aware of?
PatrickCousens: I'm not sure we'll see him at the weekend but Nathan Delfouneso is the next kid coming up through our academy. He's started a few cup games for us and generally done well, I'd like to see more of him myself since Gabby is horribly out of form at the moment, but it's unlikely.

BlackcountryVilla: Petrov has been our player of the season but he's not likely to pop up with a goal. Ashley Young is still our best player despite a dip in form.

PompeyVillan: Ashley Young. He looked sharp against Spurs but lacked that 'final ball'. It looks as if John Carew might be starting the game also after a short hiatus due to injury and fitness. Carew is our talisman and the fans adore him. The other players look up to him, opposition players are terrified of him and he's scoring goals. I'm very pleased he's back.

TheSufferingVilla: Stillyan Petrov, barely gets a mention in the press but has been far and away our best player this season, wins the ball in midfield, dictates the pace of play and never sends out a wayward pass.

LancsVillan: Gabby from the bench as he has got a point to prove now. Other than that you've heard about them all now

kurtsimonw: The obvious would be Ashley Young or Gareth Barry.. I'm going to mention James Milner as a potential threat as he's been one of our better players this season and has had a bit of an eye for goal in the last few months.

Any particularly poor players? Anyone you'd really like to get shot of?
PatrickCousens: Harewood is pretty awful really (despite that cracking goal against you last season). There's no-one else who I'd be desperate to show the door but we could do with a few reinforcements in the summer.

The_Rev: Not really. We clearly arent good enough to be mixing it with the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea over a 38 game season, whether that is down to a lack of quality in the first XI or a crippling lack of strength in depth in the squad is a discussion we need to have in the summer.

BlackcountryVilla: Agbonlahor, Harewood, Gardner, Shorey, Sidwell, Osbourne, Salifou etc...

PompeyVillan: Heskey has been nigh on useless for the past few games. As you'll likely know if he's not winning headers and setting up his striker partner he's pretty useless.

sonic_bouma: Osbourne and Harewood.

TheSufferingVilla: At this point with our squad being small the last thing we need is to get rid of players even the poor ones.

VillaAndLoyal: First word, Emile, Second word, Heskey.

What kind of style are you likely to play against us? Attacking, defensive? Any idea of the possible formation or lineup?
PatrickCousens: I'd like to see us go back to 451 against you, with Carew on his own up top with support from Gabby and Ashley Young on the wings and Milner, Barry and Petrov through the centre. I think it'll be 442 though, and I wouldn't be surprised if Heskey kept his place.

The_Rev: Im guessing a defensive 4-5-1 with one eye on a quick counter attack. We got our best results this season doing that.

BlackcountryVilla: Defend and try and hit you on the counter attack. A lot of hoofing.

PompeyVillan: Counter attacking. Plenty of width and balls into the box and break with pace. It's plan A and plan B is pretty much the same with more big blokes up front. I suspect the lineup will be 4-4-2. GK-Friedel, LB-Luke Young, RB- Reo Coker, CB- Knight/Davies, CB- Cuellar, LM- Ashley Young, CM - Barry, CM- Petrov, RM- Milner, ST- Agbonlahor, ST- Carew

sonic_bouma: We will do our usual.......play the ball to ashley young and hope for the best or play it down the line for Gabby. If Carew plays we might actually have someone who will be in the penalty area to meet a cross.

kurtsimonw: Depends whether MON will remain loyal to the team that's been poor recently or change back to our 4-5-1. So either 4-4-2 or 4-5-1. Either way we're fairly 'defensive' and like to break quickly.

VillaAndLoyal: One of the great debates lately is why we have decided to start playing 4-4-2 when 4-5-1 got us to joint second in the league at one point. Either way, a containing game, with chance to hit you on the counter.

Which Liverpool players will you fear the most?
PatrickCousens: Torres could rip our defence to shreds if he's in the mood and Steven Gerrard is possibly the best midfielder in the world, so yeah, them.

The_Rev: 99% of people you ask that question probably say Gerrard and Torres. Im in that 99%. Gerrard and Torres.

PompeyVillan: Torres is a world class striker who truly embarrassed Vidic, he has the ability to destory Villa. Other than that Gerrard obviously because he'll likely trip over his own feet and get awarded a penalty.

LancsVillan: Mascherano as he makes you tick and allows Alonso, Geroverratedard the freedom

VillaAndLoyal: Macherano and Xabi Alonso...engine room of your team and key to the outcome of the game.

There was some talk of Heskey returning to us, but he's wound up at Villa Park instead. Was it a good idea to bring him in?
PatrickCousens: Yes, as back up, but we need John Carew starting because he's frankly much better.

BlackcountryVilla: He's terrible.

PompeyVillan: In short, yes. However many expected him to be backup to Carew. At the moment Heskey has been abysmal and still starting in-front of Carew (who the manager has hinted recently was lacking fitness)

sonic_bouma: I thought he was a bargain at the time and hes had a couple of decent games. But he shouldnt be starting.Im a massive fan of Carew so anybody who takes his place im gonna dislike a little!

TheSufferingVilla: Strength in numbers they say but you can buy 50 donkeys and still not win the race.

kurtsimonw: I think it was a good move, though I'm sure many will disagree. Carew was out, Fonz is unproven and Harewood isn't good enough to start. That leaves 1 striker..

LancsVillan: Good idea IF Carew's injury was as bad as we expected, a reasonable gamble I guess, but as with all gambles you will lose some and at this time it looks like a loser

Last summer was coloured by the painful saga of us trying to sign Barry (giving rise to the horror of some of our fans calling him 'Gaz Baz'). Is that all forgotten now, or is there some continuing ill feeling towards Barry or us? How glad are you that you kept hold of him?
PatrickCousens: He's a classy player, but I still think there's a chance he'll be off in the summer if we don't finish in the top 4. I'll never quite be able to look at him in the same way, but I'm glad we still have him.

BlackcountryVilla: I'm glad we kept him for another season, if he still wants to leave this year i say sell him, if he doesn't want to be here then i won't miss him. The majority of our fans have a strong dislike for Liverpool and Benitez these days, you've replaced Man Utd as many people's 2nd most hated team.

PompeyVillan: Delighted we've kept him. He's a wonderful player who rarely loses possession and makes us tick. The ill feeling I have is not towards the club in general, however I feel that your manager is a hypocrite and a coward. He is not popular with Villa fans.

TheSufferingVilla: Yes we fucking hate your manager for that whole saga.

roger_moore: Really glad Barry stayed, not only for his undoubted ability, but it was a timely wake up call to Rafa, LFC and its fans that you do not adopt that kind of game with Aston Villa, Martin O'Neill or Randy Lerner - this is not the Villa of Doug Ellis anymore - same will apply to Ashley Young, Gabby etc.

LancsVillan: Ill feeling, of course there is you came and thought 'It's Liverpool calling, let us have him, he wants to come' then bleated all the way back up the M6, via the media haunts, about how cruel it was for us to put a valid price on his head that you couldn't match. Glad we kept him - certainly as he's been, for me, one of our top 3 consistent players AGAIN.

VillaAndLoyal: I've never fully forgiven Barry for how he handled himself last summer, he went from being a loyal servant to the club, to just another want-a-way star, and i was really suprised as i didn't expect that of him. I also think the apparent 'threat' of Barry leaving if we don't "meet his requirements" has hung over the squad like a rain cloud- especially prominent in recent weeks. As for Liverpool, i think our increased 'anger' is merely a facade to hide the dissapointment that our best player no longer wants to be here.

The papers have been full of criticism for the booing of Agbonlahor. We have our own boo-boys too (it seems like some 'fans' think they're kids at a pantomime every time Lucas comes onto the pitch). How do you feel about booing as part of the modern game? Are we likely to hear any boos on Sunday?
PatrickCousens: Despite media reportage, no-one was booing Gabby on Sunday. There were ironic cheers when his number came up because he's been poor for a number of weeks now yet O'Neill has seemed reluctant to change things around. I fully expect him to get a lot of positive chants at the weekend.

The_Rev: Nah. That is last weeks news already. You hardly hear anything about Arsenal fans hounding and barracking of Eboue and Bendtner in the news these days, do you? They have given their own players ten times the abuse as Gabby got last week.

BlackcountryVilla: Firstly, they weren't boos, they were ironic cheers aimed at O'Neill for finally taking Gabby off. The media seemed to have missed that point that the criticism was as much for O'Neill as Gabby. Our away support will be behind them all this week.

sonic_bouma: Im in the 'it was aimed at MON' camp. Gabbys been shit recently but our manager has been shitter.

TheSufferingVilla: You'll never hear boo's from our away fans, best in the league. Unfortunetly we have plenty of morons at our home games and thanks to them preferring to abuse their players when they should be cheering we have won a pathetic 5 home games all season.

kurtsimonw: I think the only boo's that will occur on Sunday is if we win the game. Our away fans are generally very loyal and supportive of the team and highly doubt they'll be booing anyone, well, not Villa players anyway. As for booing in general.. I think it's a disgrace really, you go to the game as a "supporter", it doesn't take a genius to work out your meant to support the team, not boo them.

LancsVillan: Booing is symptomatic of society today, it's is an easy and more importantly quick response to something you don't like. In the same way as net forums are the old 'Letter to the Editor' but simply real-time. Do I like it - No; Do I understand why it happens - yes. Sunday only when you sing those Celtic songs you've taken as your own

VillaAndLoyal: Firstly, it wasn't boo'ing, it was sarcastic cheers aimed at the manager. Secondly, though i don't boo myself, football is a hot bed of emotions and anyone who try's to suggest that someone who 'boo's' is not a proper fan is quite frankly not living in reality. Especially in the current climate, most people's wages go on following their team, so if on top of that they see a Premiership star strolling round the pitch then there are obviously going to be people more vocal in their dis-approval than others. It's called human nature.

You share with us the experience of being under American ownership. How are you finding life with your man Randy Lerner? Has he gone right where our much-hated Hicks and Gillett have gone wrong?
The_Rev: After 38 years of Doug Ellis in charge, we would have been happy with Hicks and Gilett! In fact, you are  probably aware that they tried to buy the Villa before they went to Liverpool only to have Ellis to call  them clowns and tell them to piss off. I still cannot believe that nobody at a club as traditionally well  run and well respected at Liverpool took ten minutes out of their day to phone us up and ask why we had  turned down Hicks and Gilett. As for the man we do have? Randy is a legend. Very happy with his stewardship of the club.

BlackcountryVilla: You've got a pair of clowns in charge and i'm glad we've got Randy instead.

PompeyVillan: Lerner is a PR genius with a great deal of integrity. He's not put a foot wrong and the improvements he's made in the training ground, stadium and team are miraculous. He's a great owner and is really in touch with the fans.

sonic_bouma: Lerner rocks. it will be interesting to see how your pair back rafa in the market this summer.

TheSufferingVilla: Lerner has done a great job in so many ways but I find it funny how Liverpool fans spew such shit about their own owners. You are in the best position now that you have been in over 15 years with some of the most talented stars in the Premiership. The manager you love has signed a huge contract extension and your stadium is still on track despite the biggest economic collapse in over 70 years. Where please tell have Gillette and hicks gone wrong?

Do you have any particular memory of any previous meeting between our clubs?
PatrickCousens: Steven Gerrards horrendous dive and then sublime free-kick in the last minute of the opening fixture last season. Disgrace.

The_Rev: The first game I ever went to was Villa vs Liverpool. Three words: Ronnie. Rosenthal. Crossbar.

PompeyVillan: Last season's game at Anfield springs to mind. Liverpool had all the possession and chances, Harewood scores an overhead kick (What a belter that was!), Mellberg curls one in and then Crouch the ex-Villan ruins the party.

sonic_bouma: the last victory we had at villa park springs to mind.about 100 years ago it was i think

TheSufferingVilla: Getting robbed by Crouch in Anfield last year but I suppose robberies are part and parcel of visiting Merseyside

LancsVillan: Say it every year there was a 0-0 in 81-82 where Jimmy Rimmer played a blinder and got a standing ovation as he walked from the pitch. And The Holte's last stand win coming the week after your own Kop's demise being widely reported but The Holte being totally ignored despite a greater actual history and being bigger in size. Stick in the mind

Have any of you been to Anfield, and do you have any memories (positive or negative) of the place?
The_Rev: Yes, and most of my memories involve Gerrard playing out of his skin and the Villa getting beat.

BlackcountryVilla: Yeah quite a few times, in fact it's probably the ground i've been to most after Villa Park. My first visit was a 1-0 win for us about 10 years ago, i was in the Upper Anfeld Road (my dad's best mate is a Liverpool fan) we scored, and i ripped my coat off to reveal my Villa top and went mad (i was about 11 haha). My dad and his mate both slumped in their seats.
I used to go to a fair few games with him, ranging from Champions League games to Blues in the FA Cup.
My first thoughts were, the Kop looks tiny compared to the Holte and the legroom is shocking!

sonic_bouma: been a few times.last time was when we got drubbed 3-1 a couple of seasons ago.

TheSufferingVilla: Never and have no intention of ever going there.

roger_moore: Trips to Anfield? My first was a 3-0 defeat in the 3rd round of the FA cup in around 1986, I was also there to see the 1992 FA cup quarter final when Thomas scored for you in a 1-0 win, and again in a 3-1 win in 2001. Seen many of your semi finals at Vpark, including a couple of draws against Arsenal in 1979, and famously was on the Holte End in December 1976, to see us 5-1 up at half time against your ' Euro champions team' - Andy Gray, Brian Little, John Deehan took poor Emlyn and Phil Thompson apart!

LancsVillan: 77-78 2-1 win on Bonfire night IIRC coming only a week or two after the shower down the road from us broke a long unbeaten run for you; 80-81 2-1 defeat when we could have won; 81-82 for that 0-0; 85-86 3-0 defeat ; 92-93 2-1 win and 02-03 and a 1-1 draw

Any good songs that we're likely to hear from your fans?
PatrickCousens: John Carew's name will be sung a lot, as will Gabby's after last weekend. I'd expect Benitez to kop some flak as well.

The_Rev: Probably 20 different verses of the Paul McGrath song. You probably know it as Kum Ba Yah.

BlackcountryVilla: Plenty about Gerrard and Benitez...
"Cheer up Stevie G
We've still got Barry
You've got, Rafa Benitez
And no, Premier League trophy"

TheSufferingVilla: Look out for some choice Harry Redknapp should be in jail songs being reworded to Steven Gerrard.

kurtsimonw: Paul Mcrath, My Lord is probably the most recognisable song, and our best one I reckon!

Where do you think Aston Villa and Liverpool will finish in the Premier League this season?
PatrickCousens: I'd love to say us 4th and you 5th after the whole Barry saga, but my head says it'll be you 3rd and us 5th.

The_Rev: Liverpool 3rd, Villa 5th

BlackcountryVilla: Liverpool 3rd, Villa 5th

PompeyVillan: Liverpool 2nd, Aston Villa 5th

sonic_bouma: Liverpool - 3rd, Villa - 5th although Everton better feck off soon

TheSufferingVilla: Liverpool 3rd, Villa 4th

kurtsimonw: Liverpool 3rd, Villa 6th

Care to predict the score?
PatrickCousens: 2-0 Liverpool.

The_Rev: Liverpool 3-1 Villa.

BlackcountryVilla: 3-0 to you

PompeyVillan: Despite our form I think we have a great chance in this game. I'm going for a 2-2.

sonic_bouma: we'll get dicked on

TheSufferingVilla: 0-1 to the Villa. Brad Freidel the hero and Garreth Barry to score a penalty in front of the kop

kurtsimonw: 3-0 Liverpool. We're struggling to score of late and you're on a bit of a roll.

LancsVillan: 2-1 Villa

VillaAndLoyal: 1-0 Villa. Carew.

Thanks once again to everyone at www.villatalk.com and good luck to them for the rest of the season.

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