Afternoon all. Still nothing from the club on the mounting speculation, apparently there is something published somewhere in the Arab World, that investors are been sought, but I'm sure it is just a case of saying nothing until something is done and besides, we have more important things happening tonight so we should maybe leave what might or might not happen for another time.
Tonight sees Manchester City visit Villa Park and talk is they are here for three points. The thing is, Mark Hughes was always good at talking and not really following up but times, they are changing for the second team from Manchester.
Like it or not, they have a team capable of mounting a challenge this season and if they are within touching distance come January, I suspect further players will be added to try and assist them in reaching the summit.
They are not here trying to break into the top four, they are very much here to win the league and if the money they have spent is any indication of the funds available to them then, then they are serious.
Tonight will be another test, much like Anfield was and one that we are capable of overcoming. We have seen that Martin O'Neill isn't frightened of playing 451 at home and he did against Fulham and I expect he will revert to that formation tonight, as Manchester City are more of a threat and we have to, break up the play in midfield and provide extra support for our defensive line.
Still, playing 451 against a team like Manchester City, with the quality players they have throughout, is no guarantee of success. It does guarantee that we will be hard to beat though and that has to be the first step. The next step has to be to try and recreate the mentality that we had at Anfield, it is after all a game about putting three points on the board and at the end of the day a scrappy, boring 1-0 win, while maybe not what we want to see, is something that will make us all happy.
Early Team News
It looks like, although we are just speculating, that Steve Sidwell will be back tonight and judging b the comments from James Collins, he knows that he will be playing and I fully expect Richard Dunne to feature too. Luke Young isn't going to feature but should be back after the international break, which should mean we will see Cueller at right back even though O'Neill purchased a natural right back in the summer. However, expect Beye to feature on the bench.
Midfield is where the battle rests for tonight and in my own little world I am convinced O'Neill is going to put three in the middle and two out wide, so expect to see Delph, Petrov and Sidwell with Milner and Young tracking back and doing lots of running.
In Utopia, a place I strive to one day visit and rest for a while, I'd have preferred to see Nigel Reo-Coker play but a part of me thinks he has played his last game for the club or actually, a part of me thinks he will be off in January or the summer and that he'll not play again unless Martin O'Neill is forced to play him again.
Again, this is just my thinking and I could be wrong, it could all be in the past now, but him sitting on the bench against Blackburn didn't look positive.
Places at Stake
We all know points are at stake and for Manchester City, if they win tonight, they will move to third place with a game in hand, which if they won could see them sitting top of the table.
If we win tonight, we would go level on points with Manchester City but unless we win by four goals we would only be seventh, but we also have that game in hand, which again, if we won, could see us third. Not that bad really is it?
If we lose however, it is mathematically possible that we will drop a place on goal difference. It isn't likely as we'd need to lose by a margin never before seen in the Premier League but it would mean Burnley move above us and we drop to ninth. Don't go betting on that happening though.
Players to Watch
All the talk has surrounded the return of Emmanuel Adebayor but it shouldn't be forgotten that our very own Gabby Agbonlahor has scored just as many in the league than him and one more in total. He has also been recalled into the England squad so he should be bubbling with confidence.
Key man for though is going to be Petrov. He has to have one of those games we all know he is capable of. It would be nice too if Young and Milner put in performances we haven't really seen enough of yet this season, which is also a good sign, because we know they are coming.
Links will be added as and when we get them, but you know I like this one and if you have the money, it is well worth paying for. Team news will also be coming up as and when we get it and we will be Twittering updates later.
I'm off to get a bottle of red ready and Martin, if you are reading this, don't try anything new tonight. Tonight isn't about trying something new, it's about doing what we did at Anfield. We need to fight as a team, break up their attack and counter. I know it isn't what I want or what many really want but it is about points and our players seem to do well when playing like that. Let them run riot and let them do what they are best at.
Actual team News
O´Neill goes 442: Friedel, Cuellar, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, Milner, Petrov, Sidwell, Young, Agbonlahor and Carew.
On the bench: Shorey, Gardner, Guazan, Reo-Coker, Beye, Delph and Heskey.