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Match Preview: Portsmouth v Aston Villa


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Villa head to the coast looking for Victory.

FA Barclays Premiership

Saturday 2nd December 2006

Kick Off 3pm

Fratton Park

After a tough week at home, Villa head away tomorrow to face high-flying Portsmouth. A disappointing performance against Middlesbrough was compounded by the usual abject effort against Manchester City on Wednesday, and again Villa will be looking to bounce back and prevent the slide which is inevitable at some point this season.

If you hadn't watched Villa's clear dip in form, you might say this is one of those games where something has to give. Portsmouth have lost just once at home this season, while Villa have lost just once away, to Bolton and Liverpool respectively. However, Portsmouth's continuing good form and Villa's apparent burnout could be problematic.

Villa will continue with Stuart Taylor in goal, as Thomas Sorensen continues his recovery. Defensively, I wouldn't like to guess. Gary Cahill has done well in the last couple of games, and Olof Mellberg has performed reasonably well at right back, but Martin O'Neill may bring in Aaron Hughes who is more natural out there even if he's not playing so well. At left back, I expect Wilfred Bouma to continue despite being horrendously at fault, in my opinion, for Joey Barton's goal on Wednesday. Steven Davis will be pushing for a return in midfield, hopefully at the expense of Milan Baros, with Gabriel Agbonlahor moving up front. However I don't expect many changes, and I would think Baros will continue up front with Juan Pablo Angel in Chris Sutton's absence. Gareth Barry is available for this game before suspension at Bramall Lane on the 11th.

Portsmouth will revert to a 4-4-2 as Kanu returns from being rested (left out to play for a point) against Liverpool, and will partner Benjani up front. Lomana Lua Lua is expected to lose his race for fitness. Sean Davis returns in midfield, and Glen Johnson in defence. Ben Thatcher's attempted murder victim Pedro Mendes is a doubt in midfield.

If I'm honest, I think Portsmouth's position says more about their fixture list than their ability. I do expect them to beat us, but the only teams of note they've faced so far are Manchester United who thumped them 3-0 at Old Trafford and Chelsea who beat them at Stamford Bridge. Villa on the other hand have drawn with Chelsea and Arsenal, but I suspect the adrenaline is beginning to run out and we will be seeing something more like our real position over the winter period.

Sky Sports have predicted what I think is a very generous 1-1, while Lawro has gone for a more realistic 2-0. Once more, I think our current league position allows us a philosophical stance at the moment. Of course football is about results but we've nicked points we shouldn't so far so an away defeat here is no disgrace. What we do have the right to demand however is 100% effort - Milan Baros won't be happy to hear that - and for a decent, gritty performance. I'm sure Martin O'Neill will be happy with that too. This isn't our season but before Martin and Randy Lerner arrived we were dead certs for relegation. Let's just enjoy watching things change over time.

I'm going to predict a score between those two predictions, at 2-1. Sorry, I don't like predicting defeat, but I think it's time we started realising they are going to happen. Goals, I think, from Kanu (2) and Agbonlahor.

Have a great day if you're heading south for the afternoon, do us proud.

Come on you Villa boys!


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This isn't our season but before Martin and Randy Lerner arrived we were dead certs for relegation. Let's just enjoy watching things change over time.

Good review Chris.

People should pay attention to the above as well, wise words :D

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Well said Chris, another good preview.

This will be only the 2nd game I miss tomorrow because basically i'm skint!

However, i'll be making the effort to get to Rococco to watch us on the Arabian.

I have a bad feeling about this one. I see us leaking goals now Taylor is in goal, and our strikers are struggling.

Going for a 2-0 loss.


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