Oh, what difference a win can make! Not too long ago most Villa fans were sceptical, downbeat and already planning which route is quickest when trying to get to Barnsley on a Tuesday night after work. But fast forward a few weeks and victory over a sinking Reading has instilled belief and optimism and finally put smiles on the faces of the B6 faithful. Performance wise, Villa have performed well of late but football is a results game and up until last weekend the only results we were getting were negative ones. Many would have been forgiven for thinking about yet another defeat when Nathan Baker sliced the ball in to the net past a despairing Guzan. Cue hands on heads from the travelling army. However, those hands turned to fists that were pumping the air a minute later when the Belgian destroyer levelled matters. Villa went on to win the game 2-1, Agbonlahor the scorer of the decisive goal, and the relief on the faces of the players, manager, staff, travelling fans, and myself in the pub was plain for all to see!
The only negative thing last week was that our opponents this week, Queens Park Rangers, also managed to come from behind and get an important 3 points. Their victory against Sunderland made it 2 wins in 2 for Redknapp’s team and they will no doubt travel up to Villa Park in a buoyant mood and will fully expect to get a positive result. It is my opinion that this will be the biggest game in our recent history and a victory here would make the task of staying up that little bit easier. However, QPR will feel exactly the same way and they too will know that a win on Saturday would aid their survival push a great deal. In the week I read a quote from Jermaine Jenas which said ‘Villa will now be frightened of QPR’. I have two points in response to this, the first being if I was a QPR player I would be more worried aboutlining up against Benteke than anything else. The second point being that Jenas should be more worried about tripping over his shoelace and causing himself yet more pain, discomfort and hours on the sofa at home than worrying about how Villa are feeling. Remember what happened the last time you played on the Villa Park pitch Jermaine? Yeah, me too…
The game on Saturday has been greeted with media attention from across the country. Radio shows have chosen it as their focus game, Match of the Day will be sure to have it first or second (providing it isn’t a 0-0 in which a total of 2 shots are taken) and the newspapers are throwing out headlines left, right and centre ahead of the clash. Pundits are giving their opinions and the bookmakers can’t separate the two teams, making Paul Lambert’s men the favourites, ever so slightly. Whatever happens on Saturday, this game really is a case of winner stays up.
Team News ahead of the game:
Aston Villa are to be without the injured Chris Herd who has been ruled out for the remainder of the season. Herd has suffered a reoccurrence of a foot injury and will now require surgery. Darren Bent might be fit enough for a place on the bench but I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t included in the squad. Nathan Baker has shaken off the injury which meant he was withdrawn against Reading.
QPR, meanwhile, appear to have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the game against the men in claret and blue.
Scoreline: Aston Villa 1-0 Queens Park Rangers
Scorer: Christian Benteke
Verdict: For me, this wont be a game which is full of goals. One goal either way will win it and I reckon that if we keep up enough pressure on the ageing QPR defence and the fans stick behind the team from the first minute to the last then victory can and should be achieved. I fully expect us to have 30 points come 5pm on Saturday evening.