Derby day awaits

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After the Villans’ high-scoring but less than convincing win against League Two’s Notts County at Villa Park last night, the Villa faithful have been rewarded with a dream third round draw. Round three will see the second city derby return to Villa Park after a five year absence. This is the draw most Villa fans have been praying for in Cup competitions ever since our neighbours dropped out of the Premier League in 2011.

Adding spice to a dish that really didn’t need any more fiery ingredients is the fact this match will come only a few days after another derby day at Villa Park, as we take on West Bromwich Albion at Villa Park on Saturday the 19th September. What a few days they could turn out to be. If we thought playing West Bromwich Albion twice in a week at Villa Park last season was tasty then these two massive fixtures will certainly whet the appetite.

I must be honest: I don’t particularly enjoy derby days as I find myself all too nervous and I don’t sleep for a week leading up to any given derby. The dread of potentially losing is just too much for me. I revel in it if we do manage to win these derby games but it’s the worry beforehand that gets me!

In the midst of the rivalry, with West Bromwich Albion becoming a much bigger club than it was, the Blues had almost slipped off my radar. By chance I happened to watch their game on Friday against Derby. I have to say I was quite impressed with them. The last time I watched one of their games was under Lee Clark and they looked shambolic. It’s fair to say that Gary Rowett has done a good job at St. Andrew’s. The team has a fantastic player in Demari Gray and Clayton Donaldson is the kind of non-Premier League level striker who has caused us problems in the Cups in recent seasons. They are no mugs.

We would definitely not get away with the same kind of rotated team selection that Tim Sherwood picked last night. I don’t for one minute think our manager would be naive enough to pick such a side yet it is a worry that so many of our players are new to the team and League. Let’s hope they are up to speed as soon as possible. A second city derby match is no time for people to be bedding in.

Gabriel Agbonlahor has been taking a lot of flack in recent weeks and, although I don’t like criticising him as to me he will always be a hero, some of it is warranted. He has mainly been a passenger in the opening fixtures. However, when it comes to playing both the Baggies and the Blues at Villa Park within a few days of each other this will be a time when all Villa fans will want to see him starting both games. Quite frankly, his derby day record is nothing short of sensational.

The League Cup draw will also present boyhood Villa fan Jack Grealish with his first opportunity to play in a proper second city derby. I bet he cannot wait. Can you imagine if he opens his Villa account that evening? It would be the stuff that dreams are made of. I think the Holte End’s roof would come off!

Some fans were on a bit of a downer after the Palace loss. Defeat was tough to take and the way we threw it away was frustrating but we all knew the Tim Sherwood rebuild would lead to players taking time to find their feet on the pitch. I am more encouraged by our first few games than I am despondent. Hopefully, with a couple of additions, we will be better set by the time mid-September rolls round. I’d certainly welcome the Premier League experience of Joleon Lescott in the squad and a new striker is an absolute must. We need as many avenues as possible when it comes to trying to replace Benteke’s goals, as one out-and -out striker was never going to be enough.

Tim Sherwood has improved the atmosphere ten fold at Villa Park since he became our manager. For one week in September, I expect it to be more magical than ever. Bring on the dread!

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My name’s Dan Bardell. I’m 29 and I sit in the Upper Holte with my dad. This is our 22nd year as season ticket holders.

My favourite ever players are Ian Taylor, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Gareth Barry, Olof Mellberg, Martin Laursen and Stan Petrov.

My current favorites are Westwood, Clark and Grealish.

Feel free to comment or follow me on twitter: @danbardell

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