Mart's massive mare

13 March 2009 11:58
This is a massive game for Aston Villa because Arsenal will be above them by the time it kicks off.

Arsenal should beat Blackburn at home on Saturday, taking them above Villa in the table, and that will make a difference. It's not long ago that people were doubting if Arsenal could catch Villa by the end of the season - but they might have done so by the middle of March.

Villa have done great, but this will be a nightmare season for them if they don't come in the top four. Yes, they have improved, but a lot of fans will be thinking the same way as me, that this could be a nightmare.

They went out of the cups very tamely to concentrate on the league, so if they don't finish fourth then the season will be a disappointment.

Their aims at the start of the season were to come in the top six and hopefully nick a cup, but Martin O'Neill went the other way and threw away their UEFA Cup chance by fielding a reserve team in Moscow.

That's dangerous because even if they finish fourth they could easily go out in the Champions League qualifying round as Everton did a few years ago. I don't think they should have given up on the cups so cheaply.

Gabriel Agbonlahor is really struggling at the moment. He looks jaded, he's not scoring goals and I just think he might have played too many games. He's done better than I ever thought he would this season but he looks tired now.

I don't see him getting much change out of Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate on Sunday, but hopefully Villa's break in Dubai will have done him the world of good.

LittleYou don't know what Tottenham is going to turn up. If we get the one that played in the Carling Cup final or the one that thrashed Middlesbrough then there's very little between these two teams. Half of the Tottenham team would get in the Villa team and vice versa.

I think they are safe. They have some tough games coming up but they are one of the only teams in the bottom half capable of pulling off a win against one of the top sides.

As we saw against Man United at Wembley, Spurs have the players to trouble anyone. I know United didn't have all the big guns out that day, but there was nothing in it at all.

Aaron Lennon can rip anybody apart on his day, the only problem is those days don't come along too often. He was brilliant in the first half against Man United but you wouldn't even know he was playing after that. Sometimes you worry about him but I think he'll enjoy himself on that big Villa Park pitch.

If you sit back against Villa you're in trouble because they get the ball in the box very quickly and they'll keep coming at you. You can't defend against that for 90 minutes, so Spurs won't go there and play for a draw. Harry only plays one way and that's to have a go.

This game is really in the balance. Villa absolutely have to win when you consider their next two games are at Liverpool and Man United. If they don't beat Spurs then it could all go horribly wrong for them.

It just shows how hard it is for a team to break into the top four. I think they could nick it on Sunday, but I reckon Arsenal will finish above them now.

PAUL'S PREDICTIONHome win - It's such a hard game to call and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if Spurs went there and won. But I think if Ashley Young plays well then Villa will win and this extra break might have done them good. I'll go for a 2-1 win to Villa.

MERSON'S MAGIC MANAshley Young - I always go for Ashley Young as my star man because if he doesn't play well then it's very rare that Villa win a football match. If he gets back to his best then Villa can pinch it.

Source: SKY_Sports