When you saw the amount of players you brought in this summer and the amount of money spent, having finished the season well under Tim Sherwood, did you see the way your season has panned out thus far coming?
Nobody saw this coming. I think we all knew we'd struggle a bit after losing Delph and Benteke, but the players we brought in over the summer were exciting and highly rated, and we had high hopes for them. But you can only use the ‘give them time to gel’ excuse for so long, and you need to be picking up points from somewhere - which we weren't.
Is Rémi Garde the right man for the job? I’ll be honest, I was surprised that you went down the continental route as opposed to finding a tried and tested manager who has experience in Premier League survival.
Let's be honest here, the position Villa are in is desperate - I doubt even Alex Ferguson could steer this side to safety. I'm not sure there is a "right" man for the job, because this job is basically impossible. I really like Garde, actually. He's the kind of manager I think you can build a club around. A proven Premier League manager might have been better for our immediate survival chances, but Garde seems like he'll be better for the club long-term. I'm starting to think we'd be better off going down/coming back up (hopefully) with him at the helm, rather than continuing to scrape by year after year.
Be honest – do you think that Villa have any chance of staying up?
Well, they do mathematically have a chance. If we manage to string together a few results over the Christmas period, maybe we'll start to gain some momentum. That's really the only hope we have left. But I just can't see it. I do think we'll at least make it respectable, but this has been coming for the past 5 years, and right now the hole is just too deep to climb out of.
Our record against Villa in recent times isn’t the best. Do you see this as a ‘must win’ or do you think that it’s more of a ‘must not lose’?
It's gotten to the point where every single match for Villa is a "must win", regardless of opponent. Draws do nothing for us now, especially with Bournemouth and Watford picking up 3 points every weekend.
In my interview on your site you asked me which one player from the Villa squad would I like to take if I could. So, same back at you. Which Sunderland player would you take if you could choose only one, and why?
You know who we could use? Patrick van Aanholt. I know he hasn't had a great season, but I do think he's starting to come around a bit. Plus, we lost our exciting left-back Jordan Amavi for the season when he was injured on international duty. He was supposed to be the answer to our left-back questions that have gone on for years. Now, we've been forced to choose between Kieran Richardson (gross) and Leandro Bacuna (who's actually a right-back, but actually a right-midfielder who plays right-back, who also can't defend). We've also recalled Aly Cissokho and Joe Bennett from their loans, so they can provide a little depth there, but neither gives me very much confidence.
What are your memories of games against Sunderland in the past?
The one that springs to mind is obviously last season's 4-0 thrashing of the Black Cats. As Villa fans, we don't often have a lot of fun watching our club, but that day was fun. I did feel a bit bad for both the Sunderland fans and Poyet on the day, but I've got to tell you, it was just so nice to be able to feel good about Villa again for a change. So I thank you for that.
Do you think Sunderland have a decent chance of staying up this season? We somehow manage to escape it every year – will we survive or does something eventually have to give?
I honestly have no idea, only because this Premier League season is so pants on head crazy, anything I say will be proven wrong by the next weekend. Normally, I'd say they'll hang around long enough to squeak over the line like they always do. But this isn't a normal season, so who knows.
Who do you think is the biggest threat to Sunderland in the Aston Villa team ahead of the game?
A player who's quickly becoming a fan favorite, Jordan Ayew - He's been our best player by far this season. He's the one player in our side who makes things happen. He loves to run at players, and he often creates space for a shot on target when it seems like he has no options.
Similarly, who in the Sunderland team do you think has the ability to cause problems on the day?
Last time we met, Yann M'Vila was Sunderland's best player, and it really wasn't even close. He scored a great free-kick, and was just generally effective, both defending and going forward. He might not be the focal point of the attack, but he's certainly one Villa will have to watch.
Finally – a score prediction, please?
Hard to say, because a lot could change between now and the 2nd, but I'll go with a 2-1 Villa win, because Villa have to win a game somewhere, right?