First of all, kindly introduce yourself to the readers.
My name is David Grimble, and I run the Aston Villa blog ‘Up the Villa’. Having lived in Cardiff for most of my life, I had no real link to Villa and ironically enough it was an early appreciation of Dwight Yorke that led me to choosing to support the Claret and Blues. Since then it’s been twenty odd years of a few cup wins that I was too young to really appreciate, plenty of near misses and in recent times a couple of relegation battles…fun times!
You haven’t made a very good start to the season with only nine points from your first ten games. What’s happened?
It’s been a really interesting start to the season for us. After the McLeish nightmare last year, Villa fans were by and large delighted when Paul Lambert made the move from Norwich in the summer. He’s come in and hasn’t been afraid to shake things up, as proven by dropping Shay Given and Darren Bent. Our form hasn’t been great, but most sensible Villa fans realise what kind of job Lambert has here, and it’s certainly not going to be a quick fix.
You got your second win of the season last week against Sunderland. Do you think that is going to be a turning point for the team?
Going into three nightmarish fixtures against yourselves, Man City and Arsenal, the 3 points last week could prove to be massive. It allows us to go into these games with a bit of the pressure off, and there is now a bit of a gap between us and the bottom three. If we pick up a point or two then great, but if not we won’t be cast adrift at the bottom of the league. For the majority of this season we’ve been competitive in most of our fixtures, and you can certainly see what Lambert is trying to achieve. It came together somewhat against Sunderland, so hopefully we can push on from here.
4. With only eight goals in ten games, you are really missing the likes of Darren Bent in the side. Do you think you can score against Manchester United on Saturday given our shaky defensive situation?
I’ve rarely seen a player split opinion like Darren Bent does at Villa. I’m firmly in the Pro Bent team, and I’d start him every game if given the chance. We’ve been crying out for a proven Premiership goalscorer probably since Yorke left, and now we seem determined to drive him out. People criticise him for not running about etc, but that’s never been his game, and I think we’ll regret it should he move on.
One player to look out for might be Christian Benteke, and he could have a good day against your centre-backs. With Barry Bannan back in the side, we’ll look to target Benteke frequently and he’s capable of either scoring himself, or setting one up as he did for Agbonlahor against Sunderland.
Robin van Persie has been red hot so far in his Manchester United career. Do you think you will be able to keep him out?
He’s a class act, and he’s gone on to show just how special he is with his form for you guys since moving on in the summer. I think any defence in world football would struggle at the moment, and given ours is pretty young and/or inexperienced, it could be a long day.
How do you expect the teams to line-up on Saturday?
I imagine we’ll be unchanged bar Bennett (knee injury) in the left-back position from the good display at Sunderland. We’ll probably play a 4-5-1 and look to pack the midfield, with Weimann and Agbonlahor defending from the top against two dangerous wingers in Valencia and Young. Benteke should get the nod up front, meaning if Bent makes it back from an ankle knock, he’ll still probably only make the bench.
At Villa we all know what Young can do when he’s in the mood, and it would be no surprise if he turned it against his former side.
Finally, how do you think the game will go and what do you think the result will be?
Even with my Aston Villa hat on I can’t see us getting anything out of the game. You’re scoring goals for fun, and even though I fancy we might get one, you’ll have too much for us over the 90 minutes. I read a stat earlier which stated that since Ferguson took over at Old Trafford, Villa have won just 7 of the 58 games played between the clubs! I can’t see us adding to that tally in all honesty…2-1 Manchester United win.