It’s another big game on Saturday as we face Aston Villa, with both sides in with a shout of slipping on-board the good ship Champions League as stowaways.
This week I’ve been speaking to Damian Dugdale of The Villa Blog to get his thoughts on the game and the season so far. He’s also asked me a couple of question over at his match preview, here.
Damian, welcome to TottenhamBlog. Tell me how long you’ve been supporting Villa and what was the first game you attended?
Thanks for having me. I can confidently say I’ve supported Villa since 1981 and I was 6 years old because that was when I had to pick a team in the playground.
It took me a while to get to Villa Park as I was the only one in my family but I’m told it was Newcastle in 1984.
Villa have quietly put themselves in the mix for a top four spot. Are you happy with how they’ve played this season?
We are in the mix but the football could be better. It’s a nice place to be, as you’ve got to fancy the football will get better, it must, but overall, the football could be better.
Last season your team just slipped away in the second half of the season and allowed Arsenal to take fourth place. Do you think that you’ve got the staying power to go one better this year, or will the same fate befall you?
It’s too early to say. Last year we were forced to move to a 4-5-1 formation when John Carew got injured and we had a very good run of the back of it.
Then, January came and we brought in Emile Heskey and reverted to 4-4-2. It seemed to all fall apart after that and I think in hindsight, O’Neill would have probably stuck with a winning team/formation – or at least until they wore themselves out.
Who have been your key players this season? From an outsider’s point of view, James Milner looks to be playing very well.
James Milner works like a player who has just been told this will be his last ever game, every week and it’s impressive, but key players for me are Richard Dunne, James Collins and Stephen Warnock.
I want to add Luke Young or Carlos Cueller to that list, as I think defensively we have been superb, but Luke has only just come back and Cueller has played at centre back too. Key players for us, in my humble opinion are those three and if we can keep them fit and Luke Young fits in, just like we all expect him too, I think at the end of the season the award for supporters player of the season might very well be split between all four.
Do you think that Milner will make the World Cup squad? What about Heskey? He’s not a regular for Villa, but would you like to see him start for England?
Hesky will make it; he has dirt on someone at the FA and I fully expect Milner will also, as he can play left or right in midfield and defence and O’Neill has even spoken about him playing in the middle this season.
I don’t expect Milner to start any games unless there is nobody else and I don’t mean that disrespectfully to Milner, only that I think that is his main attribute at the moment, his adaptability. Now go watch Milner become the best winger in the land and start every game!
Will O’Neill be strengthening the squad in January? What positions (if any) do you think will need to be addressed?
It is too difficult to try and figure out what O’Neill has in mind. We need more players in certain positions and it is quite possible we will lose a player or three in January, or that they might want to leave, but O’Neill won’t let that happen unless he has the positions covered, or so you would hope – there is just no telling what the man will do.
Position wise, I think it comes down to who leaves; I fancy Reo-Coker, Shorey and Heskey could leave but O’Neill will want his players in before he lets them go.
Arsenal have been linked with a move for Agbonlahor recently. Are you confident that Villa can keep hold of their best players these days?
Every player has a price, we know that from the Gareth Barry saga the summer before last. O’Neill didn’t want to lose him but he put a price on him, but I just can’t see Gabby going to Arsenal, in January or next summer.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see him leave and I wouldn’t be surprised if Arsenal wanted him, but maybe after a couple of seasons, but hopefully by then, we will be in a much better position to convince him to stay and I think that is the most important aspect of it.
If we stay where we are and don’t kick on, then you can hardly blame him if an offer from Arsenal or any team that can offer him the chance of regular silverware came in (Editor’s Note: Arsenal last won a trophy in 2005).
What do you think of Tottenham’s season so far and what do you think we’ll achieve?
I don’t think any Spurs fan should be surprised where you find yourselves at the moment, because I’m not and I don’t think that many really are.
Harry Redknapp knows how to get his players up for it and how to pass the ball about. It’s a tough balancing act but he can do it and has done it in the past. I think it was made easier with the quality he inherited when he joined you and bringing Crouch in and Defoe back was a master stroke and if you can finish top four this season, I think you’ll have those two to thank and maybe Modric, if he comes back into your team and really does live up to expectation, which I fancy he might.
As for this season, I think you’ll finish somewhere between 4th and 8th along with us Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City, but I’m bottling the actual question.
Tottenham have a really poor record against Villa, but we’ve just come off the back of a 9-1 win. What is your prediction for the match?
This isn’t going to be an easy match, but I fancy it’s going to be a very good one to watch and when I have my bet on Friday night after four or five pints, I’ll have a home win. On Saturday morning, when I’ve sobered up, I’ll bet on the draw and might even stretch to a 3-3 bet too.
Have a good trip up to Brum lads because your going to feel shit going back to the smoke
Attack us at you peril (as were not Wigan) and were take you apart at the back
Anyway – your a good team and it should be a great game