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Fan Focus - Aston Villa (A) Pre-Match Views

The subject of Fan Focus this week is Damian Dugdale, an Aston Villa blogger who can be found at We asked him about Villa, Downing to SAFC rumors, Houllier's future and our forthcoming encounter. Here's what he had to say...

Hi there, thanks for chatting with us. 3-3 at Stamford Bridge is nothing to be sniffed at, and Villa played very well. That should give your lads plenty of confidence heading into our clash?

Damian: Hopefully there will be more confidence, but we would have preferred a 3-0 win at Chelsea, but we will take that result after the run we have had. We needed a good performance and we go it.

All the tabloids have Gerard Houllier for the chop pretty soon, is it time to let go or is there a possibility he can change things given time?

Damian: As you say, it is just the tabloids. They want to sell papers and generate clicks and they'll publish anything to get those two things. When the manager has had a transfer window and quite a lot more than three months, if we are still not getting the results or seeing the type of performances we saw against Chelsea, then I'm sure the club will look at it, but for now, the manager needs this transfer window and probably the next for us to really see what he is capable of.

SAFC have been linked heavily with our former loanee Stewart Downing recently. Would Villa sell, and/or how much would it take to prize him away?

Damian: Every player has a price, but I don't think we would be looking to sell Downing at the moment. He has an old head on a 26 year old body and I fancy he'll get better. Saying that, offer up £25m and I think you might get someone interested at Villa Park.

There’s always talk that some teams are 'too good' to go down. Do you feel that about Villa? I know the league is tight, but you're scrapping away down there when you probably shouldn't be.

Damian: Yes, we are too good to go down and it isn't going to happen. We have a new manager who has had to contend with a large number of injuries to senior players who hasn't had a transfer window to bring in players to play the way he wants the club to now play football. When he has this transfer window and can get one or two players in, you'll see a difference and until then, I am sure he will play to the strengths of the players he has.

A lot of youth coming through at Villa, which is always good for the game. Who's the cream of the crop, and who's the next superstar we don't know yet?

Damian: Tough question this as we have quite a few coming through. Ciaran Clark has had for a while now a lot of people talking very positively about him and he has shown this season he is also versatile and knows where the goal is. But we also have the likes of Marc Albrighton, Barry Bannan, Jonathan Hogg, Chris Herd, Nathan Delfouneso, Eric Lichaj, Shane Lowry, Nathan Baker, Fabian Delph and Andreas Weimann coming through and most of those have played this season.

Cream of the crop, if I had to pick though, would be Barry Bannan, Marc Albrighton or Ciaran Clark, but I'd quite like to think that Andreas Weimann and Chris Herd will come good too, but they all might - but it is a big step up.

Looking ahead to the game, who has impressed you from SAFC and who do you think will give you the most problems on Wednesday?

Damian: Darren Bent on his day is a player that will score you goals and he will be a handful for any team, so if there was one player that I think could give us a problem, it will be him.

And finally, what's your prediction for the game?

Damian: We need a win, you are in a more comfortable position, so I'm going for a home win, but a narrow one.

We'll be catching up with Damian after the match to get his views on the game, so be sure to check back on Roker Report after the final whistle!

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