Date:Saturday January 6 2007
Villa, Villa and Villa. December 23, January 7, January 13. I'd really like to get this period behind us because I have a feeling I'll grow tired of the sight of Villa players.
Of course, our record against them indicates we are likely to collect two more victories but you can never know. The FA Cup game on Sunday will always be dominated by Henrik Larsson who is set to make his debut for the Reds. Hopefully he'll get of to a scoring start.
Martin O'Neill (Aston Villa): 'Sir Alex is one of the great managers of all time. He is a throwback to the old days of (Bill) Shankly, (Brian) Clough, (Don) Revie, (Jock) Stein, (Bill) Nicholson, (Sir Matt) Busby etc. Sir Alex is up there with all of those and he has proved it over a lengthy period of time.
'In the days of those great, great managers I have mentioned, they didn't have to contend with a lot of modern day problems like PLCs.
'Those people were able to basically run the clubs - and they ran them successfully because they were very good. They were in charge.
'I think Sir Alex had the ability to adjust his management style. There have been a lot of changes in the last 15 years and you've had to contend with a lot of problems that weren't there in the first place.
'He had the ability, the wherewithal, the strength of character to not only manage in the style he saw fit but to be able to transcend all those changes that were being made.
'To be at a club like Manchester United for 20 years, where you have to succeed, is extraordinary. He is the Godfather of the Premier League although I am not sure how people in Sicily would take to that!'
Sir Alex: 'Henrik will definitely be involved. His training has been very good, very sharp, and he has always looked after himself.
'I'm looking forward to it. I've admired him for many years and thought on two or three occasions that I had him, but I didn't because he was understandably very happy at Celtic. His record there was marvellous and I thought he changed the game when he came on in the European Cup final last year. He won that trophy for Barcelona.'
As you're surely aware now, Henrik Larsson is set to make his debut. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is likely to be given a start in the absence of the injured Saha and the resting Rooney. Tomas Kuszczak will replace van der Sar in goal.
Big surprise, eh?
Gareth Barry is back after serving a one-match suspension but Olof Mellberg is out with a ban of the same length. Gardner suffered an injury against Celtic so he's unavailable.
The Clarets' skipper is their most prolific player of the season, due to his efficient converting of penalties. Certainly capable of deciding a match and rightfully hailed by O'Neill as one of Villa's greats.
Do you need another stat apart from that we'll play them again the league next week? They did not register a win at Old Trafford for a very, very long time...
2-0. Gritty Villa to make it difficult.
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Date:Saturday January 6 2007
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|Aston Villa||1||-||1||Man Utd|
|2. Man City||22||14||5||3||23||47|
|4. Man Utd||22||11||7||4||15||40|
|7. West Ham||22||10||6||6||10||36|
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