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Found 16 results

  1. WIN TICKETS TO WATCH VILLA TAKE ON BIRMINGHAM COURTESY OF EA SPORTS! EA SPORTS™, an Official Partner of the EFL, has teamed up with Snack Media to offer 1 lucky reader a pair of tickets to Aston Villa vs Birmingham City on 25/11/18 (T&Cs here: https://footballleagueworld.co.uk/terms-conditions/). EA SPORTS deliver the most authentic gaming experience possible for fans engaging with EFL clubs and players within EA SPORTS FIFA 19. To win tickets you will need to post in this thread your prediction of the score in the England v Croatia game on Sunday and as a tie breaker, predict the attendance. One pair of tickets is available for VillaTalk members. If a score doesn't indicate which team is which, it will be assumed that the first score is the home team (England). Please only post if you can attend the Blues game You can only enter once Entries will only count before 14:00 GMT on Sunday. Please check that you've not picked the same attendance as someone else as this will invalidate your entry Any post edited after the cut off will not be valid. You can edit up until then. according to your usual posting permissions Winners' contact details will be passed to Snack Media only for the purposes of the competition.
  2. This week Lee Hendrie is in the AskFans TV studio to discuss his career in football with host Maff Brown. The former Villa midfielder discusses the changes in lifestyle and attitudes in the modern game compared to when he started, and talks about the strange world of football fashion! Plus, find out which player Lee had the toughest time playing against. A real journeyman footballer, Hendrie is best known for his early career at Aston Villa, where he made over 250 appearances for the club. He was named as Villa’s Young Player of the Season in 1998 and helped the Villans lift the Interoto Cup in 2001. After playing for over a dozen clubs in the English lower leagues he had a brief spell at Indonesian club Bandung before retiring in 2014.
  3. It is fair to state that Aston Villa fans have not had much to shout about in recent seasons, with the disappointing nature of Premier League relegation in 2015-16 compounded by a Championship campaign of mediocrity last term. However, with English domestic club football set to return this weekend, there is a renewed sense of optimism that Steve Bruce can lead the club back to where it belongs - the Premier League. Getting promoted from the Championship is a notoriously gruelling task, as Villa found out in 2016-17, but with a more settled squad and a solid pre-season under his belt, the Midlands club’s manager will be quietly confident of a successful forthcoming campaign. The sheer amount of expenditure that has been shelled out on new players since the arrival of owner Dr Tony Xia dictates that Villa should be one of the frontrunners, while Bruce has been quick to cast aside some of the squad’s deadwood over the summer. The coming and goings at the Birmingham-based side mean that the club are one of the favourites to get promoted in 2017-18 with the bookmakers, as punters use their Boylesports free bet to back Villa at odds of around 6/1. John Terry’s high-profile arrival gives Bruce a leader in his team, with the former Chelsea enforcer set to bring a wealth of experience and authority to the Midlands club. The return of goalkeeper Sam Johnstone on loan also provides the club with a safe pair of hands, but it may well be at the other end of the pitch that Villa need to get the right mix. Jonathan Kodjia’s goals were critical in Villa avoiding being sucked into a potential relegation fight last season, with the club overly reliant on the African hitman for firepower. With the main man returning from serious injury, it will initially be up to others to carry the responsibility of getting the goals to secure positive results. Scott Hogan joined from Brentford in January and has undoubted calibre, but the striker needs to find his best form if Villa are to stand a promotion chance. The 25-year-old is offered up at odds of around 14/1 to top the Championship scoring charts in 2017-18, in what would be a major boost for Bruce’s men. Midfield also remains an area of contention, with it looking like Villa have too many players to all fit into one team. The January recruitment of Henri Lansbury, Birkir Bjarnason and Conor Hourihane means the club have a new-look dynamic in the heart of their team, while Glenn Whelan has also been signed over the summer. With Australian veteran Mile Jedinak also in the mix, Bruce needs to settle on his first-choice partnership or trio in central midfield if Villa are to dominate possession and over-run opponents. A home clash against Hull city is first up for the Midlands side, with a win an ideal start to the campaign – the hosts are favourites at odds of around 11/10 to record three points on Saturday.
  4. There’s no doubt that the Aston Villa Football Club is presently at a low ebb compared with its glittering past. An inability to secure an immediate return to the Premier League has left Villa facing up to a second successive term of Championship football, with boss Steve Bruce plotting a more successful and consistent 2017/18 campaign. Last season’s squad was still too bloated and too full of top flight rejects who lacked the fight and spirit to roll up their sleeves for Championship street fights week in and week out. It’s hopeful that this time around will be different, with a strong finish to 2016/17, giving the Villa hope of better days around the corner. But as the close season rumbles on and tiresome transfer rumours continue to placate impatient fans, now’s a great time to get all starry-eyed and wistful as we take a look at Villa’s glory days. We’re harking back to many of the club’s most talented stars who made many of the Villa squad numbers incredibly meaningful and prolific during the years of European and domestic dominance. Certain numbers have always had special significance in many walks of life, not just at Villa Park. But let’s take a look at some of the squad numbers that have helped deliver the biggest successes on the Claret and Blue side of the Second City. Number 2 This number has always been held in high regard thanks to the club’s longest-serving player, Charlie Aitken, a dependable left back who made 660 appearances in Claret and Blue during a 17-year spell at Villa. There’s no doubt that Aitken’s number 2 shirt gave him an advantage throughout his stay at the club, helping Villa through the divisions from Division Three back into the top flight, before lifting the League Cup in 1975 against Norwich City. Number 9 Synonymous with the club’s leading marksmen, we had to include number 9, thanks in no small part to Peter Withe. Withe wore the shirt with distinction, particularly in the 1982 European Cup final when he shinned home the winning goal against Bayern Munich in Rotterdam. Withe was also the last Villa front man to notch 20-plus league goals in a season. There was a time in the 2016/17 campaign when it appeared that Jonathan Kodjia would break that record, but the Ivorian international eventually finished the season with 19 league goals to his name. Number 10 This number conjures up memories of a true club legend who enjoyed three spells with the club during a glittering playing career. Midfield maestro, Gordon Cowans wore the number 10 shirt with distinction during Villa’s most decorated era as part of a First Division title-winning, League Cup-winning and European and European Super Cup-winning team. Number 6 Lauded for leaving Villa’s West Midlands rivals Coventry, Dennis Mortimer enjoyed a decade of success at the heart of the Villa midfield, wearing number 6 of the Claret and Blue. The Villa skipper not only wore the number 6 when lifting the 1977 League Cup, but he also did so whilst leading the side to the 1980-81 league championship and the European Cup, alongside the aforementioned Gordon Cowans and Peter with. Heady days! There’s still quite some time until Villa announces their squad numbers for the 2017/18 season. That leaves plenty of opportunity for new faces to arrive in the meantime, maybe even the Chelsea legend John Terry. But who do you think has what it takes to fill the boots of the number 9 shirt and score the goals to help Villa back to the promised land? Will we see a graceful number 10 racking up assists in the same manner that Sid Cowans did? We can only hope!
  5. Aston Villa transfer priorities: The players Steve Bruce needs for promotion A 13th place finish in the Championship in 2016-17 shows the extent of the job at hand for Steve Bruce at Aston Villa, with a big summer ahead for the Midlands club. The Villans boss has been vocal over his desire to clear out a lot of the current squad in the next few months, while a host of new men have been linked with a move to the club ahead of next season. Given the amount of expenditure Villa have outlaid since Dr Tony Xia took over at the club, there will certainly be plenty of failed acquisitions and players surplus to requirements to leave the Championship side. The likes of Ross McCormack, Jordan Veretout, Carlos Sanchez and Aaron Tshibola are just some of the names being linked with an exit across a huge range of football betting sites, which would provide funds and available spots for new faces. Bruce will certainly have a couple of key positions in mind when looking for summer recruits. Goalkeeper will be high on his priority list, with Sam Johnstone fulfilling the role in 2016-17 while on loan from Manchester United. If Villa can tempt the stopper back to the Midlands that would surely be seen as a positive move, but other custodians such as Eldin Jakupovic, Logan Bailly and even Allan McGregor have been touted as targets. A new centre-half would be a sensible purchase but it remains to be seen if Bruce will land one or stick with the players he already has. While Chris Samba trains with the Midlands club in a bid to earn a permanent contract, Barnsley’s Marc Roberts and Bristol City’s Aden Flint continue to be linked with a switch to B6. James Bree was signed in January to contest the right-back role, but talk of Bruce reuniting with Hull City wideman Ahmed Elmohamady for a third time in their respective career continues to do the rounds. An exciting potential recruit named in the press of late has been Aaron Mooy, who has starred at Huddersfield Town while on loan from Manchester City. With the Australia international unlikely to replace David Silva at the Etihad Stadium any time soon, the gifted playmaker has been touted as a possible Villa recruit - but he would come with a significant price tag. A man at the other end of the pricing scale is Marley Watkins, who will leave Barnsley after his contract expires this summer and is a free agent. While there are no shortage of reported suitors for the gifted and versatile winger, his addition at Villa would add pace and power to an attack that has misfired over the last 12 months. Up front, it feels like Bruce has put all his eggs in Scott Hogan’s basket after splurging on the striker in January. With McCormack on the fringes and Jonathan Kodjia to miss the start of the new season through injury, the Villa fans will hope the former Brentford hitman can find form. There is certainly no reason that Villa cannot be fighting for promotion to the Premier League next term but Bruce has a lot of work to do this summer to streamline his squad. If he can do this early in the window and the players get a solid pre-season under their belts, the Villa Park faithful will have hope that the team can hit the ground running in 2017-18.
  6. Art of Football have produced a Dalian Atkinson design with all profits going to the Help Harry Help Others charity. Available as a print or a t-shirt. And just in time for Christmas.
  7. Want to be involved with EA SPORTS FIFA and more specifically the data for FIFA 17? The FIFA Talent Scout team are looking for people like you right now! With over 6000 active members, the Talent Scout community are looking for knowledgeable football fans to assist in reviewing FIFA data as Football Analysts. You can contribute towards improving player appearance, player attributes, team formations and team tactics among other things. Please visit the following website to register your interest: http://fifa-talentscout.ea.com/ Convince them that you are the right person to help develop the EA SPORTS FIFA data and they will be in touch with you soon. Stay in the conversation with FIFA Talent Scout by following: https://twitter.com/FIFATALENTSCOUT
  8. Aston Villa and Tottenham go head to head in the Premier League this weekend and despite their abysmal form, the relegation battle is far from over and the home side will look to turn it around. The Villans have lost five of their last six Premier League games and need to start putting together a few wins if they want to keep their hopes of survival alive. The home side cannot drop any more points and will need to start their revival against Spurs this weekend. Villa picked up an impressive win against Spurs towards the end of last season and they will be looking to replicate that once again. The Football betting tips from this weekend are understandably stacked against Villa, and news that Tom Fox is earning £1m+ / year as chairman while the club sinks to new depths has only added fuel to the raging fire. Spurs will be looking to bounce back from their humiliating 3-0 loss against Borussia Dortmund. The Londoners were beaten comprehensively and it will be interesting to see if the defeat has had any impact on the players’ morale. A dejected Spurs side will be good news for Aston Villa, who will need a bit of luck to come away with a positive result from this game. Although Pochettino will be looking to put the Dortmund result behind them as soon as possible and concentrate on the title challenge, away trips to relegation threatened sides are always tricky and Villa will have every chance if they can replicate some of their performances from earlier this season. Remi Garde’s side have done well against City, West Ham and Leicester at home this season and will need to show the same determination and hunger against Spurs. Read: http://outthedooron74.co.uk/ Team News Remi Garde will have most of his players fit and ready to choose from this weekend. The only injury concerns for Aston Villa are Jordan Amavi and Adama Traore. Jack Grealish is a doubt for the game and will be assessed closer to kick off. As for Spurs, Pochettino was without a few of his starters for the trip to Germany during the midweek and will look to field his strongest lineup against Villa. The Londoners are without the services of Jan Vertonghen, Clinton N'Jie and Danny Rose. All three are sidelined due to injury for the Premier League outfit. Starting Lineups Aston Villa: Guzan; Hutton, Richards, Lescott, Clark, Cissokho; Westwood, Gueye, Veretout; Ayew, Agbonlahor Tottenham: Lloris; Walker, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Davies; Dembele, Dier; Eriksen, Alli, Lamela; Kane Key Stats Aston Villa have failed to win 26 of their last 28 matches in the Premier League. Tottenham are undefeated in 25 of their last 28 matches in the Premier League. Tottenham have won 7 of their last 8 matches against Aston Villa in all competitions. Prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 Tottenham The home side will be determined to pick up some points here. The 3-0 loss against Dortmund could have a negative impact on the Spurs players and if Villa can perform like they have against some of the top 6 sides at home, there is no reason why they cannot take something from the game.
  9. How would you like the chance to Bid to Play at Villa Park in a 90 min match on the hallowed turf? Well now's your opportunity as Aston Villa FC have once again joined forces with Football Aid - www.footballaid.com - to provide fans with the opportunity to create their very own piece of club history by playing at Villa Park in 2015 while raising valuable funds for charity at the same time. Football Aid offers the Villans fans the unique opportunity to experience a matchday in the same way the likes of Gabriel Agbonlahor, Ron Vlaar, Brad Guzan and co do every other week. As a player you'll get the chance to pull on your very own exclusive personalised Aston Villa replica shirt in the official changing rooms, experience the thrill of walking down the tunnel to the sound of a cheering crowd and step out onto the hallowed turf proudly sporting your full kit and represent your team in a never to be forgotten 90 minutes of football! To add to that, the matches at Villa Park have also been supported by a host of fantastic Villa legends in recent years, with the likes of Martin Laursen, Gavin McCann, Tony Morley, Shaun Teale, Lee Hendrie, Mark Kinsella, Gary Shaw, Mark Walters (and many more) all lending their extra special support by playing alongside or managing the fans on their big day. Positions are now available in our Auction Bidding period and securing a position couldn't be easier, just visit www.footballaid.com and choose the Aston Villa game and then you’ll have two options:Option 1: Bid to Play - Enter your Maximum Bid and if you're the highest bidder when the position closes you'll win your place on your Field of Dreams, or Option 2: Buy Now - Close the auction early and secure your place with a one off payment online. Positions close at regular intervals until Thu 5th March and opening Bids start from just £165. Aston Villa fan Scott Whensley took part in 2014 and told Football Aid about his experience after the event: So if you're keen to secure a place on your Field of Dreams this season, why not visitwww.footballaid.com and Bid to Play today! Alternatively if you’d like any additional information, you can call Football Aid on tel: 0131 220 5999, email: info@footballaid.com, post on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/footballaid or send a tweet to @FootballAid. Since forming in 2001 Football Aid have allowed over 15,300 football fans the chance to Live the Dream in 578 matches all over the UK, while raising over £2.1M for charity. The unique concept was the brainchild of businessman and Football Aid Chairman Craig Paterson and funds raised from this year's event will benefit the work of a charitable project nominated by Aston Villa FC, as well as projects nominated by Football Aid’s parent charity Field of Dreams. Football Aid Trading Ltd, registered in Scotland No SC206156. Football Aid Trading Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Field of Dreams, a charity recognised in Scotland (No SC030419).
  10. Football Aid 2015 – The Ultimate Xmas Gift! If you're after an extra special Christmas present for the Aston Villa fan in your life this year, why not gift them the ultimate fan experience, the chance to play on the hallowed Villa Park turf! Aston Villa FC have once again teamed up with Football Aid - www.footballaid.com - to offer fans the unique opportunity play at Villa Park in 2015, and with proceeds from the game going to club nominated charities it won’t just be your loved ones who benefit this Xmas either. Football Aid offers the perfect present for the football daft family member - the unique opportunity to experience a matchday in the same way the likes of Gabriel Agbonlahor, Ron Vlaar, Brad Guzan and co do every other week. Players will get the chance to pull on their very own exclusive personalised Aston Villa replica shirt in the official changing rooms, experience the thrill of walking down the tunnel to the sound of a cheering crowd and step out onto the hallowed turf proudly sporting their full kit and represent the Villans in a never to be forgotten 90 minutes of football! Securing your position couldn’t be easier, just visit www.footballaid.com and choose the Aston Villa game and then you’ll have two Fixed Price options: Option 1: Buy Now - Book your place with a one off payment, or Option 2: Sponsored to Play - Pay a non-refundable £100 deposit for your place, then pay the remaining balance any time before Fri 30th Jan 2015. Aston Villa fan Scott Whensley took part in 2014 and told Football Aid about his experience after the event: “As always the experience was amazing, the Football Aid staff were as good as ever and a special thanks as always to Beanie the physio every year she's patched me up an amazing lady. The legends we had were outstanding on the pitch and genuine nice guys throughout, for Martin Laursen to fly especially on the day to play and then fly straight back to Denmark after the games tells you what a special bloke he is. The pitch once again was perfect…In closing a fantastic experience as always.” So if you're keen to surprise the Villa fan on your gift list with a unique Christmas present this year or maybe you fancy treating yourself instead, why not visit www.footballaid.com and book a place today! Alternatively if you’d like any additional information you can call Football Aid on tel: 0131 220 5999, e-mail: info@footballaid.com, post on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/footballaid or send a tweet to @FootballAid Since forming in 2001 Football Aid have allowed over 15,300 football fans the chance to Live the Dream in 578 matches all over the UK, while raising over £2.1M for charity. The unique concept was the brainchild of businessman and Football Aid Chairman Craig Paterson and funds raised from this year's event will benefit the work of a charitable project nominated by Aston Villa FC, as well as projects nominated by Football Aid’s parent charity Field of Dreams. Chris McIntyre Football Events and Charity Manager Football Aid & Field of Dreams Mob: 0780 102 2934 Tel: 0131 220 5999 E-mail: chris.mcintyre@footballaid.com Address: 6a Randolph Place, Edinburgh, EH3 7TE Website: footballaid.com Facebook: facebook.com/footballaid Twitter: @FootballAid Football Aid Trading Ltd, registered in Scotland No SC206156. Football Aid Trading Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Field of Dreams, a charity recognised in Scotland (No SC030419).
  11. Aston Villa vs Tottenham Preview, Team News & Possible Lineups Aston Villa are looking to snap a five-game losing streak in the Premier League when they host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. Paul Lambert's side haven't even scored a goal during this run which started when he agreed a new contract off the back of picking up 10 points from their opening four fixtures, conceding only one goal. Tottenham were surprisingly beaten at home by Newcastle last weekend which should give Aston Villa fans hope to ending their losing sequence. Given the recent track record of both teams you can pick up Aston Villa tickets at a snap for this game, and it would be a treat too as you might see us score against a down-and-depressed Spurs team. Aston Villa Team News Fabian Delph and Libor Kozák are the two players ruled out indefinitely for Aston Villa. Alan Hutton should be back from injury after missing Monday night's loss at Queens Park Rangers. Philippe Senderos is a doubt after missing Aston Villa's last two games. Christian Benteke played the full 90 minutes on Monday for the first time since returning from injury and has now played 200 minutes across three mathces. He's good to start again. Tottenham Hotspur Team News Kyle Walker is the only confirmed Spurs absentee. Predicted Aston Villa Lineup Paul Lambert has been using the 4-5-1 formation all season with the two wide men joining as forwards to support Christian Benteke when in possession of the ball. The packed midfield may work well against Christian Eriksen and Ryan Mason but the two wide men will need to get back to support their full backs in defending Erik Lamela and Nacer Chadli. Neither have been anything special in the last couple of weeks at least. Predicted Tottenham Lineup Emmanuel Adebayor netted only his second goal of the season last weekend. This despite a number of playmakers in the Tottenham midfield. Christian Eriksen is the main threat with the Dane capable of spraying balls out to the wing and putting his striker in a goalscoring position. The defence has not been so stable this season and the home side should be looking to exploit them. Key Matchups Gabby Agbonlahor vs Danny Rose Aston Villa have gone over eight hours since they last scored in the Premier League. Gabby Agbonlahor had previously made a decent start to the season and is a good bet to end Villa's drought. The pacey forward could be up against pacey full-back Danny Rose in this one. The Spurs defence hasn't been so great this season and their left-back in particular isn't the most solid of defenders. Rose also likes to bomb forward which could leave some space for Villa to attack on the counter. Andreas Weimann vs Eric Dier Another player who made a good start to the season was Andreas Weimann. He's gone quiet of late though but has a good chance of bouncing back in this one. Eric Dier has looked vulnerable in the right-back position a couple of times this season so the pace and movement of Villa's Swede could pay benefits in this one. Carlos Sánchez vs Christian Eriksen Carlos Sánchez made a howler to help set up Queens Park Rangers' second goal in Aston Villa's last outing. However, the Colombian is pretty clever in dropping back between his centre-backs to help defend and is a powerful figure in the centre of the midfield. He may need his strength to keep Tottenham's playmaker quiet as Christian Eriksen has been one of their best players this season. The Dane finds space and has great passing ability. Sánchez will have support from a midfield five.
  12. With the relegation battle in full swing, both Aston Villa and Crystal Palace will be desperate to put real distance between them and the pit of abyss floating menacingly below them. The pair are locked on 34 points, seven clear of Fulham in 17th, with a win for either side practically ensuring Premier League survival for another year. For that reason, this weekend's match is one of the most important for both sides, and you can be sure it'll be a close encounter. Villa have been struggling in recent weeks, having lost three on the trot since their stunning win over Chelsea last month, with the home defeat to the practically condemned Fulham particularly painful. The loss of Christian Benteke to injury last month was a bitter blow, and without him Villa have looked much less threatening up top. Grant Holt has insisted that he's up to the task of leading the line in the absence of the Belgian, and while he netted in the Fulham defeat, it remains to be seen if he can adequately fill Benteke's boots. Indeed, Holt and co will have a tough time of it at Selhurst Park, with Palace having a one of the best defensive records in the league. Only Chelsea, Man City, Everton and Manchester United can boast better records at the back this season, with Tony Pulis working wonders on the revitalised Eagles since his arrival last November. With their last away win coming at Sunderland on New Years Day, Villa need an upturn in fortunes. But Holt, who will turn 33 on the day of the match, feels his side can rectify their horror form, starting at Palace this weekend, “I don’t think you can worry about results in this division,” Holt told the 'Express and Star', “You can easily go on a four or five-game winning run depending on who you’re playing and where you are. You can only ever worry about the next game. We’ve got Palace away, we know they’re in fine form and playing well. We’ll hopefully have a few lads back to help us out and bump the squad out a bit. “We want the points and achieve a level quickly. We know we’re there or thereabouts and it’s blatant to see there’s only seven points down to the bottom three. But as a group and as Aston Villa I’d rather be on the points we’re on than other people. “You have to see the positives and look where we are. We’re in a better position than we were last year so we will be fine.” As Holt mentioned, Villa should welcome back Fabian Delph, Karim El Ahmadi, and Gabriel Agbonlahor, with the trio having been injury doubts for the weekend. Paul Lambert revealed yesterday that they had trained, and are set to return for the club, "Everybody is okay," Lambert told reporters on Thursday, "The three lads that missed the Fulham game – Gabby, Fabian and Karim – are fine and they trained this week." Villa will need a big performance on Saturday against a stubborn Palace, with a blood and thunder encounter sure to take place. It will be a stern test of Holt and the attack in general, with a win sorely needed after weeks of suffering; there'll be no better time for a return to form. Fancy Lambert's boys for the win this weekend? Check out online betting at Betfair to give Palace vs Villa that little extra kick. Article written by Tom Gatehouse.
  13. Premier League leaders Chelsea will travel to Villa Park on Saturday, with Paul Lambert's side out to avenge their controversial defeat to the Blues back in August. Villa went down 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in a feisty encounter that left the players feeling mightily aggrieved following a number of questionable decisions from referee Kevin Friend. Now with only 6 points separating them from the relegation zone, Villa need to keep up their good form following the 4-1 win over Norwich at the beginning of the month. But they will have to be at their best to oust Jose Mourinho's side, and will also be hoping for a little justice in this return fixture. Striker Andreas Weimann is eager to set the record straight this weekend: “We definitely should have got something out of the game down there because we played really well,” Weimann told the Mirror, “Hopefully we can do that again and get what we deserve this time. “They are top of the league now so everyone is looking to catch them and we hope we will be able to take points off them. “I think, attacking-wise, if we are on our game we can hurt anyone and we’ll look to do that against Chelsea.” Gabby Agbonlahor knows it will be a stern ask to defeat Chelsea, but insists the players are up for the fight, “We have to be on top of our performance to get anything,” he told the Birmingham Mail, “We’re looking forward to it because they are the games players want to play in." Villa have lost their last four matches against Chelsea, and only won one of their last eight. Christian Benteke could be the key man once again for Villa however, with the Belgian having scored in two of his three Premier League appearances against the Blues. The 23-year-old has endured a stop/start season so far, but has seemingly rediscovered his goalscoring touch ahead of the World Cup 2014 this summer, with his brace against Norwich giving him five goals from his last eight games. Benteke is expected by several bookmakers such as completebetting.com to fire Belgium to the top of their World Cup group, and his timely return to form will help Villa as well. The on loan Ryan Bertrand is unavailable to play against his parent club, with Lambert set to call upon Joe Bennett or Antonio Luna to deputise. What do you think? Can Villa best Chelsea on Saturday?
  14. Villa v Newcastle is one of the most interesting Premier League fixtures of the weekend (and not just because of Villa). Both sides have won one of their opening three games, and both sides desperately need a win to get their season going. It's going to be tight, hard-fought game, and Villa are a decent bet at 15/2 with Betfair for a 1-0 win. Villa have had arguably the toughest start to the campaign of anyone in the division, but have showed real improvement already from last season. A hard-fought win against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on the opening day of the campaign was much deserved, and Paul Lambert’s men have given Chelsea and Liverpool competitive games since, despite losing. New striker Libor Kozak is in line for a debut, but the likelihood is that the former Lazio forward will start the game from the bench. Christian Benteke will lead the home side’s line and his battle against Fabricio Coloccini should be a captivating one. Newcastle fans were frustrated with their side’s lack of activity in the transfer market over the summer, with Loic Remy the only new face at the North East club. As such, Alan Pardew is starting to feel the pressure and the club’s supporters are looking disgruntled. It has been an underwhelming start to the new campaign by the Tynesiders, with only one goal so far in the Premier League this season. Remy is fit and likely to play in attack; whether he is partnered by Papiss Cisse or Pardew opts to play five across midfield remains to be seen. Yohan Cabaye is available for recall, but again Pardew has a decision to make regarding the France international. The former Lille man came off the bench against Fulham to a mixed reception from the Newcastle faithful, and a mending process needs to happen between player and fans. This is likely to be a close game, with potentially the odd goal winning the game. Benteke’s battle with Coloccini will be an interesting one, while Cabaye’s reintroduction would improve Newcastle as a team. If one team wins they can be relatively happy with the return of seven points from the first four games of the season, while the losing side would be put under increased pressure.
  15. Much has been made over the future of a certain Aston Villa forward, with the likes of Tottenham and Arsenal linked with a move for in-form Belgian Christian Benteke. However, another attacker’s commitment to the club comes as a great boost to Paul Lambert’s men. Andreas Weimann may well have been in Benteke’s shadow last season, but the Austrian attacker has started to impose himself on the Villa side and on the Premier League. His commitment to sign a new contract with the club is something that the club’s fans will be happy about, and should be viewed as a real plus for a team that has not had a lot to cheer about recently. Whether Benteke stays at Villa Park or follows Unibet odds to pursue an opportunity elsewhere, Weimann’s role at the club is of importance The current Villa squad is made up of predominantly younger players, full of potential but not yet at the height of their abilities. Of all the prospects, Weimann has been one of the most impressive, and looks like a confident and able player, despite his lack of big-time experience. Should Benteke leave, Weimann has the speed, ability on the ball and eye for goal to assume the mantle of the club’s main striker. In an ideal world Benteke will stay, and Weimann can partner him in attack, or support him from deeper. Benteke’s 19 goals in the Premier League played a considerable role in Villa avoiding the drop last term, and for the Birmingham-based club to avoid a similar perilous campaign in 2013-14, the Belgian must be helped with the goalscoring burden. Weimann netted seven times for the club last season, including memorable goals at Anfield and the Emirates Stadium, and will look to build on this in the forthcoming campaign. Villa have a number of prodigious talents on their hands, and it would not have been a surprise to see other Premier League clubs sniffing around Weimann, as well as Benteke, this summer. The Austrian’s decision to stay at the club is a real positive; hopefully his strike partner will follow suit in coming months.

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