Preview: Blackpool v Aston Villa

I loathe international breaks.  I particularly detest friendly international breaks.  Not only do they tell us all absolutely nothing about how our national team will do in the future, but they are also efficient in getting players injured.  Suffice to say that I leapt every challenge and used all of my Jedi powers to ride every tackle made in the direction of Bent, Young and Downing on Wednesday.

I was pleased for the Villa lads – Bent is an absolute goal machine and Young looked sharp again.  Oh, and did you hear?  Apparently Jack Wilshire is going to save the world and definitely win England back to back World and European titles.  Please…let’s not lose our minds.

Speaking of people losing their minds, this weekend Aston Villa come face to face with Ian Holloway and Blackpool.  And my, aren’t they doing well?  Err, well, no.  Blackpool are currently in the process of going down quicker than a girl from Small Heath.  Goals and exciting attacking football?  Yes.  The trouble is that it’s usually the Blackpool, rather than their opposition, collapsing under all of the faux praise heaped upon Holloway and his men.

Now, I have nothing against Blackpool as a football club.  They have earned their Premiership status and I would rather play them than a traditional yo-yo club from the Championship.  But they are making the same mistakes that those before them were guilty of.  

Bizarre team selections?  Check.  

Manager doing a Phil Brown? Check.

Signing crap journeymen footballers?  Check and Double Check.

And the root cause of this is Holloway.  For all of the constant sound bites, for all of the Sky Sports rolling Holloway interviews – he will be the downfall of Blackpool.  His team are floundering for points, cannot defend and will only stay up if those below them continue to be so awful.  I’m delighted Villa get to play Holloway’s Blackpool this weekend, because I know that we are far far better than them.

There will be many Villa fans of the opinion that we should always be going to teams like Blackpool expecting to win.  Normally that would be the case, but this season is ultimately about transition – and first and foremost we need to protect ourselves from the unthinkable.  Relegation.

Villa go to Blackpool a much improved side since we last met.  The addition of Bent, Walker, Makoun and now Bradley has brought about a massive change of fortunes.  The insipid play has largely been ironed out in favour of a more measured passing style.  And crucially we have goals in us.  And Charlie Adam, I can honestly say is the only Blackpool player I would have.  But I still personally have reservations as to quite how good the man is – nobody outside of Villa and Liverpool were interested – and neither we nor Liverpool could be considered forces in domestic football right now.

Concerns going into the weekend remain at the heart of our defence.  A lot depends on how brave Houllier is and whether we can risk the shortcomings of Dunne and Collins as a partnership.  Clean sheets have been as sparse as Birmingham City’s trophy cabinet this year and this is something that needs to be resolved.  For all our hard work scoring goals, we are really really good at making life difficult for ourselves at the back.  Fulham anyone?

What I do expect is for us to be able to outplay Blackpool.  Makoun (calf injury allowing) should be licking his lips at the thought of having to pick passes against Holloway’s mob, Bent surely must be thinking it’s Christmas and Downing/Young must fancy a few assists.

Prediction Corner: 3-1 to Villa.

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