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Aston Villa at Wigan: Preview, team news, odds and where the manager proves his worth

It is now that Gerard Houllier will prove his worth as Aston Villa manager

Never let it be said that I'm a simple man, but give me a football match and a beer on a Tuesday night and I'm sorted. Give me three points and I'm happy for the rest of the week.

I also have a feeling I could be happy for the rest of the week after tonight. We might only be a couple of places above Wigan, but we have a renewed belief and based on the performance against Manchester City the other day, we really could beat most teams in this league.

Now, just because I write that, it doesn't mean we are nailed on for the three points tonight and Wigan haven't had that much luck this season. They've played some decent football; the results just haven't dropped for them.

A must win game

I tried to soften things up a bit with the paragraph above, but the truth is, tonight is a must win game for us. It isn't must win for the manager or for the end of our season, it is must win so we can start to put a little distance between us and the lower positions, but also and possibly more importantly, to show that the other day wasn't a one off.

The thing is, if you look at the fixture list for the rest of the season, I fancy with my realistic head on, all but two of them are winnable. Honestly, go look at it.

The table never lies

As of right now, we are two wins from seventh place - a top six place is also still possible as the team currently in sixth have lost important players through injury or getting a better job and to top it all off, they're managed by Steve Bruce, who has the managerial stamina of David O'Leary. They will drop more points than they take between now and the end of the season and they will end up finishing eighth.

All in the head here on in

So, tonight is important because everything is still achievable and the players and the manager will know this. Okay, maybe not all the players, but most of them and if they didn't, they will be getting told very soon that it is.

Which is when Gerard Houllier starts to earn his money. Fitness is taken care of, hopefully the footballing basics are taken care of and tactically, we are starting to see the Gerard Houllier that we all sort of expected to see, which is when the manager has to get the players to believe it is possible.

There is a percentage of this game played in the head and Houllier has shown over the years that he knows how to play that game, so keep your fingers crossed, he gets it right tonight.

Updates, team news and odds

So, we will as we do with every match day, update this page with team news as soon as we get it and we will also be updating Twitter with bits and bobs throughout the day and if you took my suggestion of a Darren Bent goal and an Aston Villa win the other day, you should probably do that again tonight. The odds are below.