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Dave Woodhall's Villa Blog



Ahead of Sunday's visit of Chelsea, Villa have been busy in the transfer market, snapping up Zat Knight from Fulham and the Baggies centre-back Curtis Davies. It brings Martin O'Neill's tally of summer signings to five. Dave Woodhall assesses their potential.

The transfer window has shut leaving Villa with five new signings for the summer. Nigel Reo-Coker and Scott Carson are quality, Curtis Davies shows promise, Zat Knight was a strange one and Marlon Harewood, well, he might do alright.

None, with the exception of Reo-Coker, are the world-class singings thought likely at the start of the summer, when sums of up to £50 million were being bandied about.

I wish we'd bought a couple of really big names, although I appreciate that we can't attract that calibre of player just yet. I wish we'd bought this week's new arrivals a month earlier so they wouldn't have to settle in immediately. I also wish Zat Knight hadn't popped round to see his mum the other day, but we'd better go no further on that one.

Villa have ended up with what looks to be a solid, reliably mid-table squad. With luck we could finish in the top seven. That'll give Martin O'Neill a stronger basis on which to attract the type of player who could push for the Champions League spot which is, unfortunately, the only measure of success these days.

The time when doing well equated to winning trophies vanished at roughly the same time Sky started promoting the Best League in the World, so unless we finish in the top four in a couple of seasons time O'Neill will invariably be judged a failure.

Sunday will be an interesting game. Chelsea have started well and Jose Mourinho will probably be well aware that he's never won at Villa Park. I don't expect much silky skill on evidence but it may well be a blood and thunder game like the one two seasons ago, when the late, unlamented David O'Leary put out a team that matched the twice-champions, proving appearances can sometimes be deceptive.

O'Leary couldn't do it again, but O'Neill will. I'm as sure as I was when I made the confident prediction that signing Zat Knight meant we weren't after Curtis Davies.


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