Both teams will be buoyed by the weekend results as Steve Bruce takes the lads for a midweek clash with 15th place Aston Villa.
SAFC Team News
After the convincing 3-0 win over Blackburn on New Years Day, the team news should be fairly straight forward for SAFC. Nobody really had a bad game against Blackburn, so more of the same please Brucey!
The back 5 looked the most balanced it has been in weeks with Bardsley slotting in at his natural right-back position, having performed admirably on the left. Richardson replacing him at left-back and it was nice to see Kieran have a good game. Bramble & Ferdinand did well too, and pick themselves really as SAFC’s only fit centre-backs. I realise Da-Silva is available too, but let’s face facts; he’s not going to play unless we’re desperate. Craig Gordon had very little to do against Rovers, and I hope he’s equally bored at Villa Park on Wednesday.
In midfield, the returning Steed Malbranque was outstanding, as was his fellow winger Ahmed Elmohamady. David Meyler looks like having an extended run alongside Jordan Henderson in the middle, due to Lee Cattermole’s month long absence with a back injury.
The striking department is where Steve Bruce may wish to mix things up. All three of our strikers got goals against Blackburn, but all three have some sort of niggles. Darren Bent sustained a seemingly painful poke in the eye. Danny Welbeck was a doubt going into the match, and maybe rested in favour of Asamoah Gyan, who himself had a knock heading into the Blackburn game, but has had more rest after only making a 10 minute cameo against Rovers. It’s a coin toss as to who partners Bent in attack, I just hope we don’t lose Steed or Elmo to accommodate all three.
Bruce’s Probable Team:
Gordon; Bardsley, Richardson, Bramble, Ferdinand; Malbranque, Henderson, Meyler, Elmohamady; Bent, Gyan
Gordon; Bardsley, Richardson, Bramble, Ferdinand; Malbranque, Henderson, Meyler, Elmohamady; Bent, Welbeck
From the Villa side:
Villa will be full of confidence, despite not winning at Stamford Bridge, we all know a last-minute goal often feels like a win, and can do wonders for morale, so we’ll have to be on guard.
Villa don’t have that many injury problems, or suspensions of note. The highly rated Fabian Delph sustained a knock and missed the Aston Villa game, but I’m unsure he would have played anyway.
One thing the Villains to have though, is plenty of talented youngsters to call on, and we should expect to see a fair few of them on Wednesday night, including weekend goal-scorer Ciaran Clark, who should be deployed in left-back as opposed to his more natural centre-back position.
The main threat for Villa, in my mind, will be Ashley Young, who has a knack of having decent games against us, and Emile Heskey who has had his knockers, but just when we SAFC fans write someone off as ‘shite’ they seem to bite us on the arse every single time popping up with a goal. Hopefully that has changed.
Also in an intriguing sideline it will be interesting to watch Stewart Downing, a player we’ve been linked with, but contrary to reports from half-blind people, was definitely not at the Stadium Of Light on Saturday alongside Lee Cattermole, that was Blair Adams, who looks nothing like Downing.
Villa is always a tricky away game, and whilst we’ve had a mixed bag or results there in recent years, I’ll be happy to come away with a point. I think it will be quite an open game, with Villa looking to give the home crowd something to shout about, and ease the pressure on Gerard Houllier.
I’m going for 1-1, Bent scoring early on for us, Ashley Young equalising shortly after, and SAFC riding out a cavalcade of Villa attacks to hold on.
Enjoy the game everyone!