Villa away last season was one of the early false dawns for Roberto Soldado. Townsend was in his salad days (now slowly being eaten away) and had flukily put us ahead early on before after the break, Paulinho slipped our penalty king in and he scored comfortably. Here we go, who needs Bale? Erm, we do.

Bobby may get a chance to relive that moment of splendour. Adebayor’s goalscoring but generally also cringe inducing performance last Sunday (did anyone else laugh when he injured himself by miscontrolling and treading on the ball?) should make Pochettino ponder making a change up front and with Chadli also just making up the numbers against the Geordies then surely it’s time for the partnership of Kane and Soldado to be given a trial. They’ve gelled well in the cup games and if nothing else, having someone in the side with Kane’s attitude will lift the team psychologically, something that the manager was keen to dwell on after last weekend’s display, as well as blaming the pitch size of course.

Villa Park has been kind to us over the last few years and with the home side struggling after their good start – they’ve lost their last 5 after gaining 10 points from their first 3 games – we should be hot favourites for the points, except for the fact that we too are limping rather than striding into the winter. A good win against Newcastle would’ve taken us level fifth with a couple of winnable fixtures to come, such was the nature of last weekend’s defeat however I think realistically we should be wary of getting drawn into the messy stuff behind us before thinking of overhauling the likes of West Ham and Hull above us.

Naughton is back thankfully so our biggest defensive hole will be filled. Fazio would be handy against Benteke but with Kaboul being skipper it’s hard to see him being given a chance with Vertonghen from the start. I don’t think it’s clear what our best defensive pairing is, Vertonghen and Dier anyone? It’ll be a while before we find out.

Capoue and Mason are likely to carry on in midfield though Stambouli did enough on Wednesday to merit a place on the bench. Eriksen and Lamela pick themselves currently, for Chadli though see above.

A solid performance with the big players performing at their best should see us through; you’d be rash to make any assumptions however.

Neil Swarbrick is down to referee. COYS.


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