League positions, form and just sheer gut reaction tell you that this game is more likely to hinge on how Latics cope with Villa’s attacking threat than how much they threat they pose themselves and you can currently get 13-1 for a 2-0 away win against 20-1 for the reverse score over on Betfair. Things are much more even on the win/lose front than they were in the last league game, but Villa are still clear favourites. That said Latics are currently at 9-4 and that might prove worth a punt.
Anyway, it’s not all about the odds (I wouldn’t take my advice anyway) and there’s a theory that Villa are an easy team to play football against. It’s stating the obvious to say that’s should suit Latics to a tee and could provide them with a good springboard to keep the New Year rolling. I suspect it will be closer to call than many pundits will give Latics credit for and may well come down to who wants the points the most.
Latics certainly need them the most, it’s still a little grounded around those relegation places and now would be the perfect time for any of those sides to put a run of form together. Three points in a game that, due to the weather, could effectively prove our game in hand could prove vital and if not extremely useful. We might have had a good game last out but that only serves to mask the generally downward feel to our league performances.
It would be nice to see that the performance against Hull has given the squad a little bit of confidence. It would be even better to see a bit more faith in two of the players that put in shifts last Sunday. Latics need a bit of a bounce in their step and what better way to carry a bit of momentum forward from the cup win than giving McCarthy and Sinclair starts in the league.
Are they ready? I’m not sure, but I’d guess that they’re just as ready as Scotland, Gomez and (god forbid) Koumas and with Diame and Scotland still missing (albeit in different ways) there’s at least one slot up for grabs. It appears that Bobby is winding up to do quite a bit of business over the next couple of weeks what better way to start off than working out whether two of his summer signings are up to the job.
So with a starting front four of N’Zogbia, Rodallega, Sinclair and McCarthy, it’s time to focus on what will likely be the most important aspect of the game, whether Latics defence can cope with the attacking threat of Villa. Compare the aforementioned attack with Young, Abonglayor, Heskey (or Carew) and Downing and it’s blatantly obvious who’s got the most to worry about.
There is no hiding from Villa’s status as one of the “chasing pack” of the Premier League, Latics were on top of their game to beat them at Villa Park and will need to be again to get something in the return fixture. But when you’re looking for a fresh start then where better to start than where it all began so well back in August?
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