Let’s rewind right back to 1982 when Aston Villa lifted the European Cup, thirty years ago. Peter Withe scoring the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Bayern Munich. Now let’s come right back to now where Alex McLeish stands in the dugout with a claret and blue tie hanging from his collar. With the start of the Barclays Premier League just five days away, Aston Villa look forward to an exciting ten months of competitive football.
Who stands in front of the first three points? Martin Jol and his Fulham side. Fulham are one of those sides who tend to linger mid-table never moving, improving or going into decline. Last season’s Craven Cottage visit was the stage for the Marc Albrighton’s goal of the season after Bary Bannan’s Hollywood pass, cutting Fulham’s defence in half to allow Albrighton to slot clinically past a helpless Mark Schwarzer. Unfortunately for Aston Villa, Fulham did come back and score a goal through a 94th minute equaliser by defender Brede Hangeland.
Knocking at the door for their second Premier League match is Blackburn Rovers. Yes, again. Already this season have we beaten Steve Kean’s blue and white army 1-0 thanks to Darren Bent. When Christopher Samba, Blackburn’s big centre-half, was asked “Are you bored of playing Villa 4 or 5 times every year?” he replied: “Yes to be fair, that’s already one.” For the second time this season, Aston Villa will be looking to beat them, with flare, attack and style in front of their home fans for the first time this campaign. With the likes of Charles N'Zogbia, Marc Albrighton and Darren Bent leading the line along with a revived Stephen Ireland, midfield beasts Stiliyan Petrov and Jean II Makoun and Gabby Agbonlahor and Emile Heskey there to provide extra ammunition we should certainly be in for a treat. Let's not forget our defence in this, new goalie Shay Given, and a reunited back four, Stephen Warnock, James Collins, Richard Dunne and Luke Young, we look set to be hard to brake. Even if they manage to break the back four, still stands Given, looking sharper than ever.
Our attentions then turn to this tasty Midlands derby against Wolverhampton Wanderers. The dingles make their way to Villa Park for this ever exciting encounter. Points were shared last season, three points to Villa and three points to Wolves. Villa were surely be looking for revenge after leaving fans outraged, exclaiming to Gerard Houllier “You’re getting sacked in the morning!” following a 1-0 defeat thanks to a Matt Jarvis cracker. However, in the reverse fixture it proved more to fans likings as in Houllier's first fixture as Villa manager Heskey became the hero, scoring a winner towards the end of the match. You doin't often say that Emile Heskey would get Gerard Houllier his first set of Premier League points since his Liverpool departure, would you? Let's just hope he has his shooting boots on come the Saturday August 27th.