September 29, 2011
Another weekend, another so-called 'winnable' game.
But while hosting Wigan may lazily be deemed one of the more straightforward fixtures of the league season, a word of caution: this is a game Villa haven't actually ever won in the Premier League. A sequence spanning six games since Wigan gatecrashed into the top flight under Paul Jewell in 2005.
September 25, 2011
That was painful, and then a little less painful, to watch. Villa's Sunday afternoon outing at QPR ended badly when Richard Dunne - minutes after justly being named as man of the match - scored the most unfortunate of own goals to give the home side an injury time equaliser and a point.
The manner of the goal will have hurt Villa as well as the timing; three minutes into the allocated five minutes of time added on. But while the second half ended with a nasty sting in the tail, the preceding 45 minutes at least provided a few clues as to how this Villa can move forward.
September 22, 2011
That was brief. The champagne has gone flat, the suntan is already fading; the flight is boarding, a return to work is looming. If Alex McLeish has ever had a honeymoon period as the manager of Aston Villa, there's a growing feeling that it's drawing to a close.
It was okay, the honeymoon. Light on the romance and explosive lust, more about polite small talk, holding hands and vaguely interesting sight-seeing. But now it's time to come home, to return to reality, to confront day to day business. And to perhaps, quietly and secretly, to ponder the question that neither party wants to ask out loud: should we have actually gone through with the wedding in the first place?
September 20, 2011
It depends how you choose to interpret the information; look at Villa's start to the season from one particular angle, and the state of play seems encouraging. Take a slightly different angle, and the picture gets a little fuzzier.
Villa: unbeaten in five Premier League games. Or, Villa: one win in five Premier League games. Both statements are entirely true. Which side of the fence you sit on may just boil down to whether you're a glass half full or a glass half empty type. That being the case, I need a refill.
September 17, 2011
Alex McLeish is going to make a change to his team today.
We know this for certain, because Emile Heskey, who has started all four of Villa's league games so far this season, is ruled out of the home clash against Newcastle - and very probably the next couple of matches too - after injuring his hamstring at Everton last week. It will force McLeish to make his first significant change of the campaign; this is the first time the front six of his elected 4-2-3-1 formation has been disrupted. The question is: who is going to benefit from Heskey's absence?
September 14, 2011
It would be fair to say that September didn't start well for Stiliyan Petrov.
Successive defeats in the Euro 2012 qualifying double header against first England, and then Switzerland, ensured Bulgaria won't be playing in the finals next summer, and may yet suffer the ignominy of finishing bottom of Group G. In the fall-out following these defeats, Petrov, Bulgaria's captain no less and most-capped player in the national team's history, was on the receiving end of some harsh criticism from former player Yordan Lechkov.
September 9, 2011
There is always someone worse off than you, so it is said, and Villa don't need to look too far for a shining example of that someone this weekend.
Whatever frustrations have been felt by Villa fans during the last 12 months, a time when the realisation of squad reshaping and ambition downsizing has slowly dawned, those frustrations can be multiplied for those who populate the blue half of Merseyside.
September 7, 2011
The text message from my brother came through sometime during the second half of the England v Wales match at Wembley on Tuesday night. I could have guessed the content before even reading it.
'Must be galling,' he wrote/taunted, 'to see so many recent ex-Villa players out there tonight: Barry, Downing, Young...'
Galling. Yes. Galling would be one way of putting it, I suppose. A fairly restrained way of putting it.
September 1, 2011
Not exactly a flurry of transfer activity for Villa on deadline day, but in the context of what has been a largely frustrating and deflating summer, three deals finalised in a matter of hours can be deemed busy.
The question is – were they the right deals, and is Villa’s squad actually better off following the additions of Jermaine Jenas, Alan Hutton and Enda Stevens?