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Match Preview: Reading v Aston Villa


ChrisVillan
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Villa face Reading live on Sky before their ludicrous mid-season break.

FA Barclays Premiership

Saturday 10th February 2007

Madejski Stadium

Kick Off 12.45pm

I must admit, I'm at a bit of a loss with this one. Usually, you see, I bulk up the tiny amount of factual information in my away day previews with an incomprehensible amount of hatred and bile directed at a team which is otherwise meaningless. Except Newcastle, that one was genuine. But - and I'm rather ashamed of this - I can't quite seem to despise Reading to the required level for such wordsmithery to carry the punch I might like.

I do think Reading's performance this season may be a one-off, a la Wigan, but I think they have done plenty to justify it. I, like many, have a lot of respect for Steve Coppell. He seems a very clever guy, and certainly a manager with rare integrity. The fact that I seem to fall asleep every time somebody points a camera and a microphone at him is neither here nor there. He is, undoubtedly, doing a very good job. After 26 games of their first Premiership season, Reading are deservedly sitting pretty in sixth position on 40 points. That's four more than enough to keep them up this season by my reckoning, incidentally. They've won their last four in all competitions.

After we beat Reading at Villa Park at the beginning of the season I wrote them off as doomed. More fool me. They've proved me and many others wrong and, even more annoyingly, they've made us enjoy it. Reading play some very nice football and that's always going to win over the fans of other clubs. The negative tactics of Watford and in particular Sheffield United frustrate everyone else but Reading seem to be going about their Premiership career in the right way. Off the pitch, the signings of young Irishmen Kevin Doyle and Shane Long have shown a scouting nous which is impressive to say the least.

According to the Beeb, the aforementioned Doyle may return to the squad tomorrow afternoon. Compatriot Shane Long however is a doubt after picking up an injury on international duty. James Harper will start. Other noteables we can expect to see at the Madejski include new signing Michael Duberry at centre half, England U-21 rescue-merchant Leroy Lita and the talented Nicky Shorey. He cost them £25,000. Oh, and one Ulises De La Cruz. I'll be the first to appeal for a welcoming applause for Uli. True, he wasn't good enough for Villa, but he is a true professional and gives his all. He is also a good man, as anyone aware of what he does with half his wages will know. He deserves a good reception.

Anyway, enough of Reading. Aston Villa are 13th in the table with 32 points. That's eight behind Reading in the European spots and one behind Newcastle in 10th. We are 12 points clear of West Ham (tee hee!) in the third relagation berth. After that hideous run, we have now won two in three, and we were the better side in each game, as we were in several during 'the run'. The two wins were of course over two of the bottom three, but those games are far from easy, as I'm sure many mid-table teams will find between now and May. But if we're going to move up the table a touch, or even stay where we are, we'll need to pick up some more points in tougher games.

Villa's injury news makes encouraging reading (apologies for inaccuracies here - I always find injuries difficult to keep up with), in that there isn't much of it. Luke Moore and Martin Laursen are both returning to fitness, while Chris Sutton (remember him?), JLloyd Samuel, Craig Gardner and Mark Delaney are all still sidelined. Mind you, they'd stay sidelined when fit I suppose. Let's all laugh at Newcastle! And here's an encouraging fact: the BBC would have us believe that every league game between these two sides has finished in a Villa win. Lovely stuff. Mind you that's the same BBC who claim "Aston Villa began the season with great expectations."

The referee tomorrow afternoon is Mendes-robbing Scholes-befriending Spurs-annoying Mark Clattenburg from Tyne & Wear. So, if we surround him with enough players he'll give a penalty five minutes later. That's good to know.

"The Lawrenson" has had a rare bout of carelessness and has opted for an outrageously ambitious prediction of a 2-1 away win! He believes new strikeforce John Carew and Ashley Young could be the key, and Reading have started talking about Europe, and that's when things can go wrong. Of course, the only talking about Europe Reading are doing is "we're not talking about Europe", but still. Kiss of death or Lawro's continuing improvement? Time will tell. Personally, I think we'll play very well and get a deserved draw. Make no mistake, Reading have several very good players. I'll be amazed, for example, if we can stop Leroy Lita's scoring run, but some of the unsung heroes, Nickey Shorey and Seol Ki-Hyeon to name but two, can make telling contributions.

I'm going to opt for an exciting 2-2 draw. Reading have conceded more than any other side in the top eight and Villa, believe it or not, do tend to score. I think Ash and John will cause problems for the Reading defence. I'd be happy with a draw too, but then I just don't like losing.

Come on you Villa boys!

[CV]

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  • Moderator

the BBC would have us believe that every league game between these two sides has finished in a Villa win.

Tis true in 10 attempts The Royals have only beaten us once, a game OldFart remembers well - an FA Cup 2nd replay in 1912

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Sulky hun has actually been a bit part player for them recently. Has played less than 1 half in each of their last 7 league games and missed 4 of those completely.

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To be fair to Lawro, I am surprised at the stick he gets. Yes he has us to lose a lot of matches but, er, how many matches have we actually won the last two seasons?

He just plays to percentages as far as I can see. People can say what they like but I reckon the bookies and Lawro don't stray too far from each other in terms of thinking.

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  • VT Supporter

the BBC would have us believe that every league game between these two sides has finished in a Villa win.

Tis true in 10 attempts The Royals have only beaten us once, a game OldFart remembers well - an FA Cup 2nd replay in 1912

..... Just goes to show stats mean jack shit.

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