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Chelsea rout renews Villa's focus

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Chris Bevan | 08:00 UK time, Friday, 9 April 2010

It is just two weeks since the agony of their 7-1 league defeat at Stamford Bridge so it is probably stating the obvious to say that Aston Villa's players will have a point to prove when they face Chelsea again in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final.

That mauling also resulted in a period of soul-searching at Villa Park for manager Martin O'Neill and his squad that went far deeper than putting right an embarrassing defeat.

Taking any positives whatsoever from the Chelsea debacle appeared unlikely in the immediate aftermath of what O'Neill described as his "worst day in football".

And things got even worse a couple of days later when rumours - that turned out to be completely unsubstantiated - emanating from an internet forum suggested that O'Neill had fallen out with the club's American owner Randy Lerner and was about to resign.

martinoneill595x335.jpgO'Neill's long-term future at Villa remains in doubt Photograph: Getty

It appeared a season that has seen Villa mount a prolonged challenge for a fourth-place finish in the Premier League as well as reach the Carling Cup final could implode in spectacular style.

Instead, there has been a rousing response, on and off the field.

Villa's fans and players came out fighting in defence of O'Neill during and after last week's win over Bolton that keeps them in the hunt for a Champions League place. And, although the former Celtic boss is yet to commit his long-term future to the club, he appears far chirpier now he has been given reassurance - from some quarters at least - that he is wanted at Villa Park.

Could the fresh focus brought on by the Chelsea defeat help Villa get revenge on Sunday, too? Possibly. Dashing Chelsea's hopes of a double in O'Neill's first FA Cup semi-final as a manager would be confirmation that Villa are back in rude health. Yet stopping a side that are in such good form will clearly not be easy, however improved the West Midlands outit are.

Much could depend on Chelsea's outlook, with BBC pundit Alan Hansen warning the ease of that 7-1 win might affect the Blues' focus this weekend. It's a scenario Hansen is familiar with, as he was captain of the Liverpool side which thumped Crystal Palace 9-0 at the start of the 1989/90 season only to be beaten 4-3 in an epic Cup semi-final a few months later.

"Chelsea will go into the game buoyed with confidence but there will be touch of complacency, too," Hansen told me this week. "No matter what the manager or their coaches say to them, I've no doubt that they will be sitting in the dressing room beforehand thinking about the 7-1 game because that is human nature.

"Did complacency play a part in us losing in the Cup against Palace? Not so much beforehand as at half-time, because we went in 1-0 up. But, in all honesty, if it had been a boxing match it would have been stopped then because we had just absolutely pummelled them.

"We knew we had beaten them 9-0 and we had started out as if we were going to do the same again. At the back of our minds we thought that would happen but instead it was 1-1 50 seconds after the restart and we found ourselves in a totally different match after that."

True, it was months and not days which separated those games between Liverpool and Palace. And while Eagles manager Steve Coppell had time to rebuild his side in the meantime, O'Neill, who operates with a small squad, will be able to make limited changes to the side that lost 7-1.

terrylampard595x335.jpgJohn Terry and Frank Lampard celebrate one of Chelsea's seven goals Photograph: Getty

But that might play into Villa's hands, too. The players' painful memories are fresh even if their legs are not. And on that note, they have an even bigger incentive to succeed following Chelsea captain John Terry's assertion after the game at Stamford Bridge that Villa fade away in the final third of matches.

A clearly narked O'Neill responded by pointing out that ProZone stats show his side are one of the fittest in the top flight, saying: "I hope that comment does not come back to haunt Terry."

Clearly, Villa are not short of reasons to galvanise them ahead of Saturday but, if they did need another carrot, they also have the manner of their loss to United on their first visit to the new Wembley stadium six weeks ago, a defeat which still rankles with O'Neill.

So, motivating his side will not be a problem. Convincing his troops that they can stop Chelsea from steamrollering them into submission again might be a tougher task.

I spoke to sports psychologist James Hamilton about how O'Neill might try to prepare his side, given the debacle that occurred following his half-time team-talk at Stamford Bridge. The answer seems to be to stick to the positives from that game - however few they may be.

"Martin needs to do exactly what he has done personally since that defeat. That's bolster his own self-esteem as a manager and strengthen his own position at the club - with all of his players," Hamilton told me.

"He has already started doing that by steering the blame away from them, by talking about what happened in that game as a mad half-hour in what has been a fantastic season, not the embarrassing surrender he spoke about afterwards.

"The best thing he can do before Saturday is hammer home that what they did in the first half at Stamford Bridge was working and hope they forget what followed. Chelsea's position is completely different, though, and if I were sitting in their dressing room before the game I would almost feel out of a job. Carlo Ancelotti just has to let his players get on with things and keep the shrinks well away from his side."

Villa's tactics will matter just as much as their mental approach, even more so if Richard Dunne fails to shake off an Achilles injury to play at centre-back, where he has been so impressive all season.

As for Chelsea, Didier Drogba may return to the starting XI but it is possible Ancelotti could stick with the line-up that has served him so well domestically in recent weeks and keep Nicolas Anelka as a lone striker.

"Chelsea are creating tons of chances at the moment and you could understand if he sticks with that system at Wembley," added Hansen. "But you cannot write Villa off even if they haven't had a great time since losing the Carling Cup final, culminating in that pasting by Chelsea. You cannot forget that they are a really good side with some top-class players.

"They really want to do well for Martin now after the stick they have had and the only way they can answer their critics is by their actions between now and the end of the season. They bounced back against Bolton and it wouldn't be an upset if they did win at the weekend.

"Even if they don't win another game between now and the summer they will still have had a good season but this could end up being a phenomenal one."

You can follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/chrisbevan_bbc

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Good article Chris

    I think Lawro gets a bit more stick than he normally deserves, but for him to say that the 7-1 result will hardly affect the match is a bit of a joke. How could such a strange result not affect the match? It's not often that a top four challenging team is demolished in such a manner, especially with all to play for. the last time that happened was with Everton but they were already sitting in 4th at the time.

    Anyway, I sincerely hope that all the factors above in the article affect the game in a positive way - for Villa of course...

    UTV!

  • Comment number 2.

    A nice balanced piece, Chris. So often in football teams play each other in quick succession in the cup and the league and I always get the feeling that the two games never play out the same.

    As for Martin O Neil's future, he has been on a rolling contract ever since he joined. At the end of every season he sits down with Lerner and talks about the future and then commits to another season. It is no different this year, apart from now the media make it out like some sort of crisis.

    Also I think most Villa fans would prefer to win the FA Cup than finish 4th.

  • Comment number 3.

    Decent blog Chris, though a little unsure about the very last comment. Villa can still finish 4th and Spurs having a tough run in only aids that. A good season has in truth been rather frustrating at times as there have been, again, too many home draws and we still aren't a Champions League team anyway, though have had our moments with wins over Chelsea (home), Man Utd and Liverpool (both away). Not sure that Robbie Keane is the answer but we need someone up front who can be relied upon week in week out. Gabby does tend to drift in and out of form and Heskey's record is pretty obvious for all to see. Either way, Up the Villa - another trip to Wembley in 2010 is just what we need :o)

  • Comment number 4.

    Finally nice to see someone do a blog more focused about someone other than the "Big Four". UTV.

  • Comment number 5.

    Also I think most Villa fans would prefer to win the FA Cup than finish 4th.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    Totally agree, 4th is definately overrated but seems to be all that many fans and pundits see as a measure of success. Per £ of investment we must be the most impressive team in the league and have a great manager that can get the most out of every player, that he has bought from a 'weaker' team. With the exception of Dunne and Heskey, I can't name another player who has much experience of regular top 4 consistency yet they have all worked hard to please the manager.

  • Comment number 6.

    Villa have had a good season and are pretty much where you'd expect a team that spends the kind of money they do to be, ie. 5th-7th.

    However, their one-dimensional tactics of just getting it wide and getting crosses in tends to mean they come unstuck against better teams, and they are quite low scorers which suggest that once teams work out how to stop them, they struggle to break them down.

    Also, O'Neill's steadfast refusal to rotate his squad has hindered their run in, which is baffling considering the same thing happened last year. The rumours that people like Milner were borderline injured but still played in the 7-1 defeat shows his stubbornness and lack of trust in his squad players (whom he bought).

    Even if they lose the semi they'll be in Europe next season anyway, and I do think that Chelsea will win this match 2 or 3 nil.

  • Comment number 7.

    PS: I'm not saying that Heskey has top 4 consistensy but that he has, for some of his career, been around players who have !

  • Comment number 8.

    I think if come the end of May we finish 6th in the league and 1 Cup final apperance and another semi final would be seen as a very good season IMO. Although we have finished 6th in the last 2 years this years league is much more competative so to finsih 6 th would be an improvement beacuse if we stood still we could be finsihing 7th or 8th.

    As for Saturday, even though it's a 1 off game Chelsea will still be too strong for us and will win over the 90 or maybe even after extra time. Wouldn't be surprised if we took an early lead.

    I would just like to say that Martin O Neill is the right man for Villa and should stay for many years!

    UTV

  • Comment number 9.

    At Villa, the sum is much greater than the parts. There is not a world class player amongst their squad, which unfortunately is what is required when competing at Champions League Level.

    I worry how it would set Villa back if they were to suffer humiliation in the CL, after all they were knocked out of Europe over two legs by Vienna just this season. What they are doing however is improving vastly every season. Unfortunately, players like Carew, Heskey, Dunne, Friedel, Agbonlahor etc whilst being of good quality, they are certainly not top quality.

    The best thing for Villa, which I hope happens, is to win the FA Cup and then go onto build in the Europa League next season. They need a top class goalscorer, a creative playmaker through the centre and I worry that although Collins and Dunne have performed remarkably well in our league, that up against some nimble, skillful creative european teams, they may just struggle.

  • Comment number 10.

    Does anyone genuinely care about the FA cup anymore? As an Arsenal fan I certainly do not. It's a shame but the competition has just become a non-event now, there's just not the sense of achievement that winning the competition used to have.

    O'Neill it must be said has done a fantastic job at Villa. Built a strong defence (that chelsea game aside) and has an excellent midfield. If he can just add some quality up front (agbonlahor clearly no-where near good good for me) they could well be top 4 contenders.

  • Comment number 11.

    Heh heh, he, hee heh, "outit" heh heh, heh, he. I don't wanna see O'Neils' "outit", thanks pal. Heh heh, yeah. He should keep it covered up, heh heh he, yeah. Wear a bra or something, hehe heh

    etc.

  • Comment number 12.

    Great use of the worhds chirpier, narked and use of sideburns.

  • Comment number 13.

    #10 thegoldenduck

    It's a shame you have that attitude, an attitude that seems to be something of a self fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps Arsenal could try harder in the cup competitions to develop a more positive, successful frame of mind in the players.

    For all of Arsenal's supposed 'success' and supposed 'pretty football', I do sit and wonder just what the plan is for that club. Also, perhaps there is something approaching stagnation and lack of direction with the continuing movement in shares.

    As for Villa, the previous result was largely a bad day at the office coupled with a good day at the office for Chelsea.

    More broadly, what Villa need to progress is a 20 a season goal scorer. Easy said than done of course, but the strikers they have have been there long enough to show that they don't do the business. Agbonlahor for England? Don't make me laugh.

  • Comment number 14.

    #10 thegoldenduck
    I bet you wouldn't be saying that if Arsenal were in with a chance of ending their 5 years without a trophy! Frankly that kind of attitude stinks and is why I hope the "Big 4" do go off and join a european super league, then maybe top flight English football can get back onto a more even footing.

    Frankly as a fan I would much rather my team won a cup and did well in the league than get into fourth spot and do well but not win a cup. Seriously it's become ridiculous how suddenly 4th place is seen as a massive target to aim for and more important than actually wining something. I mean really all finishing 4th does is give you the chance to get through to the group stages of the CL, woopdy do, great for the money men but hardly that great for the fans.

  • Comment number 15.

    I worry how it would set Villa back if they were to suffer humiliation in the CL, after all they were knocked out of Europe over two legs by Vienna just this season.
    ----------
    CL might be a stretch for them (!) but Vienna were VERY jammy to knock out Villa on away goals.

    Otherwise, nice appraisal of Villa, if a little harsh on Luke Young who is definitely amongst the best RBs in the world! Yeah! How'd you like that!

  • Comment number 16.

    #14 Richyburger

    'I mean really all finishing 4th does is give you the chance to get through to the group stages of the CL, woopdy do, great for the money men but hardly that great for the fans.'

    Yeah finishing 4th is a ridiculous target. Awful for fans to have to watch their team play champions league football, week in week out agaisnt the worlds best players!

  • Comment number 17.

    I for one am really looking forward to the game. As a Chelsea fan, we can all forget the 7-1 game as that is over.

    Villa will finish in the top 6 (at least) and have one of the best young english squads in the preimer league. It will be a tough game, probably finishing 2-1, hopefully to Chelsea.

    If we do lose however I would like to wish villa all the best for the final as it would be nice to see a host of english players playing in a wembley cup final.

  • Comment number 18.

    #17 David Rolls

    A host of English players eh? What about A Cole, J Cole, Terry, Lampard, Sturridge...

  • Comment number 19.

    As far as I see Chelsea and Villa will be confronting each other in the FA with a clean slate and any result is possible, as have happened before. Either team letting too much baggage from the last game clutter their mind could suffer.

  • Comment number 20.

    "So, motivating his side will not be a problem. Convincing his troops that they can stop Chelsea from steamrollering them into submission again might be a tougher task."

    It might have been very early in the season but

    Saturday, 17 October 2009
    Barclays Premier League
    Aston Villa 2-1 Chelsea

    Should certainly help to convince Villa they can win. Chelsea had won 10 out of 11 games going into that I think (all competitions).

  • Comment number 21.

    Re 14 Richyburger

    I fully agree. Most fans want to see their teams winning trophies, not trekking to some place in Lithuania or Ukraine in July to try and qualify for the Champions league group stage. As Danny Blanchflower once said "it's about the glory". I've said this before, but you don't get a medal for coming 4th in the Olympics, so why should 4th place be (potentially) so richly rewarded in the Prem.

    "the goldenduck" You typify the myopic arrogance of some of the Big4 fans by looking down on a competition with tradition, history and relevance as being too small for you. I wonder how many Arsenal fans would just love to have a chance to win the FA Cup (or anything for that matter) come May. Many I suspect.

  • Comment number 22.

    -Thegoldenduck

    What an unbelievable comment. As an Everton supporter, I cannot begin to explain my joy at reaching the cup final last season. Coming second in the FA Cup felt a lot better than finishing fifth in the Prem, which is essentially just losing out on fourth place.

    That's the problem when you glory-support. You lose sight of the traditional elements of the game which make it as great as it is, and become so obsessed with winning the 'important' trophies (in your language) which, lets be honest, you have little chance of actually succeeding in.

    Maybe if your side treated the FA Cup with any respect (seem to remember you lot getting trounced by Stoke in Round 4), then perhaps you will understand that surrounds such a unique competition.

  • Comment number 23.

    1/ Yep, it was such a freak result that I think it will have far more bearing on the semi-final than a narrow win for Chelsea two weeks ago (just for example) would have done. If Villa's season was beginning to drift a bit (and it had done slightly since the Carling Cup defeat) then the 7-1 gave everybody a wake-up call.

    2&5/ Interesting to see you'd rather win the Cup than finish fourth. I agree; so little silverware is actually up for grabs whoever your team is, that getting your hands on a pot counts for a heck of a lot and I think people forget what winning stuff means - to the fans for a start.

    I can understand some of the arguments for Champions League taking precedence, because a decent run for even one season can transform your finances... but that's not guaranteed - remember Everton's very brief status as a Champions League team in 2005 for example? Would Villa or Spurs fans really swap the FA Cup for that?

  • Comment number 24.

    I wonder whether a chelsea win would distract them from the league ... come on you gunners!!!! Predicting a Man U loss at blackburn as well haha

  • Comment number 25.

    I predict a much tighter game on Saturday. I even think Villa's players might have the mental edge going into the game.

    Villa go in as clear underdogs with a point to prove. John Terry's comments and O'Neill's motivation should be enough to see them compete blow for blow for 90 minutes and with Ashley Young putting balls in the box on a sixpence, villa will create chances and I think they will score at some point in the match.

    Chelsea on the other hand will struggle very hard not to be a bit complacent. Their recent form and recent win gives them confidence and belief, but also perhaps a touch of complacency. As you say - its human nature.

    7-1 aside, Villa have a decent record against Chelsea in recent seasons and have been one of Chelsea's bogey teams since Abramovich came in. As such, with the different mental emphasis of the 2 teams - it promises to be an intriguing game. Chelsea are obviously favourites, so Villa have nothing to lose!

    I'm desperate for some silverware and after the manner of the Carling Cup final defeat, I think the players will be very keen to try and go all the way and make amends in the FA cup.

    Come on the Villa!

  • Comment number 26.


    'remember Everton's very brief status as a Champions League team in 2005 for example? Would Villa or Spurs fans really swap the FA Cup for that?'

    Odd point - as far as I can rememebr Everton are the only English team not to have got through the champions league qualifier match, it's generally not an A1 european team you have to beat. You would be incredibly unclucky to draw a team of the calibre of that villareal side again.

    So for the chance to play in the champions league, attact better players and who knows possibly win the greatest club trophey in the world, I would suggest, there would be fans willing to make the hypothetical swap of fa cup for 4th place you mention.

  • Comment number 27.

    I disagree with Goldenduck. I too am an Arsenal fan and although i also would rather take a fourth place finish over winning the FA cup. I desperately want us to win something so that the players start to develop a much needed winning mentality. We have no chance of winning the Champs League without first winning the prem to give us the needed confidence to beat the best teams. You can already see from the Barca game that when we came up against a great team we were scared to play our football, more nervous than i have ever witnessed before during the first leg. So winning something is very important for us, but losing out on the Champs League for a club in our financial position, we are most definitely not out of the woods as regards the stadium debt yet, would be a disaster. I was angry last year when Wenger prioritised The CL semi against united over the FA cup semi with Chelsea because for any fan winning the FA cup would be brilliant. However the key test would be to ask any Man City fan which they would prefer and i think most rational fans would take a 4th place spot. Winning the FA Cup for them would be amazing in the short term but in the end getting 4th would enable them to progress, attract better players and establish a greater foundation for future success in which they could conceivably challenge for the FA cup every year. For a club the size of Fulham/Birmingham the opposite is true, if they somehow found themselves in the position of choosing 4th/FA cup, the shareholders might choose the former, but any fan would take the cup as it is highly unlikely they would be able to sustain a consistent Champs League assault whereas a cup would look good in the history books forever.

    So it really comes down to your club and the position, not just in the league but as a club as a whole, and whether 4th place would be a spring board to greater success or just a flash in the pan. What would you prefer for your club?

  • Comment number 28.

    18.

    Yes we have some english players as well - and better ones. They are also alot older than villa's hense saying "Young" english players.

    AS a chelsea fan I suppose you just want the most expensive signings regardless of their nationality.

    THIS Chelsea fan (ME) would like to see younger players coming through and doing well at top english clubs - and sturridge doesn't play much and the rest are pushing 30.

    If the top clubs do not develop english players in the next 5 years are national team will become a joke when the "golden generation" are all too old to play.

    Personally I would like us to get Walcott, Milner & Gibbs (Cashley can do one) and belnd them with some wonderkids from abroad like Aguero, Pato & Silva. Along with Cech, Terry, Frank & Essien this would provide the basis for a quality younger team.

    And

    get rid of the whole of our "squad players" and bring through the likes of Mancienne, Borini etc. We brought them for a reason it is time to give them a chance as well.

  • Comment number 29.

    I think the point raised by Rishi is quite fair.

    The problem with Big Four clubs is that they're so used to success that winning domestic cups becomes second nature, especially to teams like Manchester United and Arsenal, who have won the majority of Prem titles. You ask any United fan whether they enjoyed winning the Carling Cup, they probably couldn't remember winning it (a bit of exaggeration, but the sentiment still remains). The glory is lost.

    For all other clubs apart from the top 4, including the likes of Tottenham and Manchester City, winning trophies is now something of a novelty. I think if Manchester City were still in the FA Cup then the answer would be different, I think they would prefer the silverware, so that they could legitimately say that they were back in the big-time. They are so rich that it is really only a matter of time before they break into the top echelons.

    Tottenham, however, are a different story. They still have both the FA Cup and 4th place up for grabs. Do you really think that Tottenham would rather finish fourth than win the FA Cup, despite winning the Carling Cup only two years ago?

    I don't think so. What supporters of these other clubs crave is glory and a place in the record books. You don't get that by finishing fourth.

    What about for top 4 clubs? Well, what are Liverpool prioritising right now, as shown by the withdrawal of Fernando Torres on Sunday? They want to win that trophy. That is what matters. I am pretty certain Torres and Gerrard (and Reina) will remain at Anfield next season, whether they finish fourth or not, they are a massive club. There is every chance (give or take two or three good signings) that they could be back in next season.

  • Comment number 30.

    #28 David Rolls

    I think our opinions are much closer than perhaps our posts have suggested.

    I agree that we need to get some youth in there. How's about this for a starting 11:-

    Turnball
    Mancienne - Burma - Ivanovic - Hutchison
    Mikel
    Kakuta - Essien - Sinclair
    Sturridge - Stoch

    Moves should have been made in 2006 rather than getting in Sheva and Ballack. I will explain that another time.

    I think Ancelotti will make some changes in the next six months. Players like Ballack, Ferreira, Carvalho, Belleti and Kalou can go in my opinion. Might sound brutal or harsh but the time has come for them in terms of what they can offer Chelsea going forward and I think Ancelotti will want 'his' team more next season.

    What do you reckon?

  • Comment number 31.

    Does everyone remember those heady days when everyone tried to win every competition they were entered into no matter how unrealistic the chances or what the final prize was?

    When so called top sides didn't put all your eggs in one basket and play kids or reserves in 'A' standard Cup games, or rest them before 'bigger' games?

    Nowadays, fans pay really good money to go to matches and actually defend playing 'weakened' teams in the Carling and F.A.Cups purely out of loyalty - even Wolves picked a second string against United because they'd given up on any points before a ball was even kicked. Did Arsenal fans really get any pleasure in watching their 'kids' go all the way to the Carling Cup Final like a few years ago only to inevitably lose to a near full strength Chelsea and have replaced those kids with younger ones now!

    Yes, the UEFA Cup has been heavily devalued because of it's 'Plate' status for failed CL teams but when the record books are written it's still a trophy and I thought that's what it was all about in the end? It's what ends up on all those banners anyway!

  • Comment number 32.

    to be honest i think villa have no chance tommorow, altough iam not chelsea fan or something. just think with martin oneil they dont have chance. that arrogant manager proved what he's worth - to be at spl this is at best. why iam sayng this - because he had 4 or 5 years to achieve 4th place but failed and very badly i should say, also his team uses only defensive tactics (basically), and with such a rubbish attack you cant achieve nothing, they get result occasionaly against chelsea or united but thats it iam afraid.

  • Comment number 33.

    It should be a good match tomorrow, Villa have a good chance of winning if they play well.

  • Comment number 34.

    I have a lot of respect for Martin Oneil he has done a great job at the Villa and it has to be said his team were harshly treated in the Carling Cup final where Villa's opponents enjoyed a seperate set of FA rules which ultimately won the game for them. I honestly dont think Martin or his fans will ever forget the appalling decision by Phil Dowd not to send Vidic off after only 5 mins of the game.
    However I cannot see Villa turning round a 7-1 thrashing and although it was a one off with Villa Chelsea are by far the best team in the PL at this moment of time they have a Barcelona look about them but whoever wins this semi final will I'm sure go on to lift the FA Cup...

  • Comment number 35.

    I believe it will be closer than the recent 7-1 thrashing, and who knows it could go either way, I only hope villa put up a good show, at least better than the 2000 cup final when only one team turned up.
    I would prefer to win th FA CUP anyday than finish 4th, and that is nothing against the champions league, but we are not ready for that compettion at present, the CL has come on a long way since 82 when we won the european cup....anyway hopefully villa to win 2-1, but I think Chelsea will win the premier league, and I hope they do I've been very impressed with Ancelotti.

  • Comment number 36.

    I hope villa bt chelsea at wembley on saturday, villa deserve to win the FA cup.

    In the other FA Cup on sunday, I hope Spurs thrash Portsmouth, so that spurs can get some confidence to beat arsenal and chelsea in the premier league as they are the next two games for spurs in premier league.
    (I hope Manu win the Premier League, they deserve it!)

    Portsmouth could have easily avoided aministration if this was sorted out much earlier in the season

  • Comment number 37.

    #24 alexsongisbetterthanmessi wrote: "I wonder whether a chelsea win would distract them from the league ..."

    Think about that for a second...

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    As a Villa fan i'd love to win obviously but think we'll lose 3-1 sadly

  • Comment number 40.

    It's a scenario Hansen is familiar with, as he was captain of the Liverpool side which thumped Crystal Palace 9-0 at the start of the 1989/90 season only to be beaten 4-3 in an epic Cup semi-final a few months later.
    ==========================================
    A lot can happen in "a few months".
    I think that a more relevant tale is what happened in an FA Cup tie between Manchester City and Luton Town in 1961.
    With 70 minutes having been played, First Division Manchester City were thrashing Second Division Luton Town 6-0, Denis Law scoring all six goals.
    Unfortunately for Law and City, the match was abandoned after 70 minutes because of poor visibility.
    A few days later, Luton won the replay 3–1.

  • Comment number 41.

    I hope we'll see a good match with many goals, scored by both teams :)

 

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