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Aston Villa
January 23, 2009
Posted by Jerrad Peters on 01/23/2009

Call it the O'Neill effect. Until late Thursday, Emile Heskey had planned on returning to Liverpool at the end of the season. With his contract set to expire in June, the 31-year-old Wigan Athletic striker was poised to maximize his earning potential by signing at Anfield on a free transfer. Until Martin O'Neill hijacked the transaction.

By Friday morning, Wigan and Aston Villa had agreed a fee of £3.5 million. The player arrived at Villa Park for a medical just a few hours later. It's expected he'll sign a three-and-a-half-year contract at the club.

January 17, 2009
Posted by Jerrad Peters on 01/17/2009

I received an email from a reader shortly after the UEFA Cup draw had been performed in Nyon. It was a one-liner. ..CSKA are a very good team. Good challenge for Villa...

Good challenge, indeed. Impossible challenge? Maybe. Russian teams have excelled in this tournament for several years. And for good reason. The Russian Premier League has become one of the top divisions on the continent. According to UEFA..s latest ranking, it..s the sixth-best competition in European football. It outshines the leagues in Portugal, Scotland and Holland. If it keeps improving at the present rate, it will surpass the Bundesliga by summertime.

CSKA Moscow finished runners-up to champions Rubin Kazan in the recently completed domestic season. They kept a tight defense, allowing just 24 goals in 30 rounds while scoring 53, second only to Zenit St. Petersburg. Man for man, they match up well against Aston Villa. While Martin O..Neill will be viewing CSKA as a ..challenge,.. his counterpart, former Brazil international Zico, will see Villa as a team the Russians should beat.

January 13, 2009
Posted by Jerrad Peters on 01/13/2009

Let's assume that Michael Owen is going nowhere in January. It might be a stretch, but let's begin with that assumption nonetheless.

Firstly, it's highly unlikely that he would play Champions' League football wherever he went, if he chose to make tracks in the winter transfer period. None of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United are keen on him, especially when they can get him for nothing in July. And he's obviously not leaving the Premier League again.

Secondly, he clearly feels a certain degree of loyalty to Newcastle. At least he should. Either way, he's scoring goals for the club again. And if he continues in doing so, he'll leave the Magpies in a respectable position at the end of the season. Loyalty repaid.

Kevin Hughes Kevin Hughes spent the best part of ten years working and writing for the football magazine Match; once (sort of) inspiring David Beckham to copy his shaved-hair look, getting lost in Paris after the 1998 France v Croatia World Cup semi-final and other such nonsense. As Deputy Editor, he launched and established Sport, the London-based free weekly magazine, before moving on to become a consumer magazine publisher, a position he holds today. Introduced to Villa by his father and grandfather, he attended his first ever match at Villa Park as a seven-year-old in 1982… and has suffered almost constant disappointment since. You can follow him on twitter @KevHughesie

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