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Dave’s Villa Blog

OLD DERBY, NEW AMBITION

10-01-2009

Villa and the Baggies are squaring up for a repeat of their ancient derby, but Dave Woodhall has his eyes on another historical feat – Villa’s 1981 title victory. Could history be about to repeat itself?

First of all, the most important thing to talk about regarding tomorrow’s game is the Paul Birch collection which will take place beforehand. This has been organised by the Villa Former Players Association, and some of their members, together with ex-Albion stars, will be joining members of the Villa Supporters Trust rattling collection boxes outside the ground before kick-off.

If you’re at the match, give generously. If you aren’t, send a cheque to the Paul Birch Fund c/o Aston Villa, Villa Park, Birmingham B6 6HE.

Villa v Albion is a strange fixture, and one which has been overtaken by events. As you should all know by now it’s the oldest top-level derby in the world but not taken particularly seriously by many Villa supporters while Albion fans are split between Villa and Wolves as their particular bogeymen.

Whatever happens tomorrow, I doubt we’ll see a repeat of the seventies bloodbaths that used to blight this fixture.

Derbies are usually close-fought games with quality football at a premium, but this one might be a bit different. To their credit Albion are trying to play football and unlike most teams to visit Villa Park this season aren’t liable to, as the saying goes, park the team bus in front of their goal.

That’s just as well, because Villa’s success has been built around counter-attacking which is difficult when the opposition won’t attack.

If Martin O’Neill has a failing it’s that he’s so far been unable to put together a successful plan B for the rare games when our fleet-footed front runners (how’s that for poetic device) don’t come up with the goods. As Terry Wills said earlier this week, our attack could cause havoc amongst the Albion back four.

The past few weeks have seen Villa getting results without being on top form. You can say it’s a run of luck that has to run out sometime, or you can say the best teams are those who can win while not playing particularly well. Every successful team has to win ugly at some stage; it’s a good habit to get into.

Three points tomorrow and we’ll still be right up amongst the front runners. I know it’s hopelessly optimistic but I couldn’t help noticing we’re now quoted at 40/1 to win the title. That’s the same odds as in August 1980......

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