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Match Preview: Bolton Wanderers v Aston Villa


ChrisVillan
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Villa's season ends at the Reebok.

FA Barclays Premiership

Sunday 13th May 2007

Kick Off 3pm

Reebok Stadium

And so, friends, we reach the end of a respectable season which...how can I put this...bowed slightly in the middle. Okay, bowed a lot. But it was respectable nonetheless. We had a very decent start to the season, maintaining the longest lasting unbeaten run in all four divisions. We've also now stretched our second impressive unbeaten run of the season to eight, heading to Bolton later today (technically) looking for not only that ninth unbeaten game but also a fourth away win on the bounce.

At the end of the season, the meaningless games begin to pile up. Tomorrow, the only unresolved issues in the Premiership are whether West Ham, Wigan or Sheffield United join Watford and Charlton in the Fizzy Pop league, and who takes the UEFA Cup spots. In other words, Bolton have something to play for. A win, I believe, guarantees them a European berth for next season. And we can't have that.

So do Villa have anything to play for? Strangely, we do. Firstly, if we get a point or more, we'll have broken 50 points. It's a pointless landmark, but it's a landmark nonetheless. Secondly, if we win and Blackurn lose to or draw with fellow European hopefuls Reading, Aston Villa will finish in the top half. Again, not exactly cause for celebration is it. But it's a very definite step forward from the depression of 2005/06. We're six points ahead of the team behind us which is, amusingly, Middlesbrough. That's where George Boateng, Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu went to win trophies.

What's more, if I'm not mistaken Tottenham Hotspur can be helped out if Villa beat the Trotters. Meaningless? Well, no. If, as expected, Spurs qualify for the UEFA Cup through their league position (that's fifth, sixth or seventh to you and me), Villa will represent England in the Fair Play League draw on Tuesday. Were we to be drawn from the hat there, we're in the UEFA Cup. How's that for flukey...but surely it won't happen!?

Anyway, before we start getting carried away, there's business at hand. Hopefully Martin O'Neill won't let the players take it easy. Who knows, perhaps a game without too much riding on it will allow the Villa to repeat the superb football of last Saturday against Sheffield United. The team is expected to remain unchanged, predictably, with Stiliyan Petrov and Shaun Maloney unlikely to start even if they were to recover from injury in time.

For Sammy Lee's side, Abdoulaye Faye and Tal Ben Haim are expected to be available. However there are doubts over El Hadji Diouf, Nicky Hunt and Joey O'Brien.

Lawro's gone for a draw, I'm saying 2-1 to the Villa. The pressure is off, the mood at Villa is sky high and I can see Bolton tensing up and bottling it. I'm going to predict both goals to come from Gabby Agbonlahor.

So that's it for another season. And the next one's beginning to look like one to remember.

Come on you Villa boys!

ChrisVillan

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I'm going to predict both goals to come from Gabby Agbonlahor.

Making him the second highest scoring Englishman in the Premiership?

Nice report CV, and I'm pleased to say I share your optimism on this one. They don't seem to have adjusted yet to missing Fat Sams grand plans.

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