Date: 26th December 2009 at 10:45am
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Interview with JP Fear from Vital Villa:

1. Did you expect to have started so well and can you sustain it?

Well from February onward last season we just capitulated, there was a late rally right at the end but it was hugely disappointing having pushed so hard for so long and then we had our first game of this season. GULP. It was a basic no show against Wigan and highly worrying the way the entire team seemed devoid of spirit, however we have since remedied that and with some style we have beaten Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United so things seem to be on the up and up. What we need to do now is make sure there aren’t anymore winter slumps. We have more strength so I’ve got everything crossed.

2. How important is this game for Villa and do you think they will be up for it?

I think Рclich̩ warning Рthat every game is important. We beat Man Utd away and then went up to Sunderland which was a massive banana skin. We won and then faced Stoke at home, that could have ruined the hard work but again, we managed to grind out a result. The Arsenal game is important in as much as it would be lovely to see us beat all four of the so called Sky Top Four to really push us onward and upward and also keep us in and around your points tally (and to keep Liverpool below).

I can see no reasons why we’d not be mentally prepared and up for it, especially after last seasons win at the Emirates (I had tickets and ended up in bed with flu… DOH!) so we go into the game on a roll and with much optimism – albeit no arrogance as I’m sure the team know only to well that Arsenal also have their tails up and are a very dangerous team.

3. You seemed to fail last season because of the lack of strength in depth? If that was the case, what is different this season?

We’ve built slowly but fairly surely. There are options in our defence which is great, we are so strong at the back now. Richard Dunne has turned into a great buy, as has James Collins who we nabbed from West Ham. Knew nothing about him before he came but he has been superb. Warnock is also a solid signing and Luke Young on the opposite side is now fully fit and on fine form. Midfield is looking good with Young on the one side and Downing on the other. That has meant a change for James Milner and he is looking a total diamond in the centre, this lad is going to be a Villa (and hopefully England) legend.

Up front I think we are a bit thin on the ground, Gabby Agbonlahor has come on leaps and bounds and is improving each season (he is still only young, people forget that), John Carew on his day is immense but he does drift off and go into hiding at times. Then we have Emile Heskey who looks like he was just finding some form but has picked up a groin injury. Story of his career perhaps? We also have a youngster called Nathan Delfouneso, watch out for him, he’ll be a top player for us, but at 18 he might not be ready for game in and game out stuff.

4. We are all heartbroken that Liverpool seem to be struggling, do you think Villa can take their spot in the top four?

Hope so, who is to say it will just be one team breaking the top four this season though? Our main competition seems to be Manchester City and Spurs, quite what will happen remains to be seen, I’m to long in the tooth to expect anything now, I just hope and dream!

5. Who should Arsenal fear in your team?

James Milner in the centre is becoming a right handful and is on the goal trail. Ashley Young hasn’t been on top form all season but always has it in him to bring a moment of magic or a telling cross and then Gabby Agbonlahor is maturing very nicely and is a big danger. So take your pick, we have a nice squad developing here I must say!

6. I’ll throw the same question you asked me back at you! What do you think Villa will achieve this season and is it good enough for your owners, manager and most importantly the fans?

Well, a Wembley final appearance in the Carling Cup is on the cards if we can beat Blackburn Rovers. No pushover that but it isn’t the worst draw we could have had and hopefully our sold out allocation for Ewood Park means us Villans can roar the team on and back to where we should be far more regularly, finals. Then it is anyone’s guess, runners up or winners, I’d love to see us lift the trophy as the first of many. Not won it since 1996 (having also lifted it in 1994) and that is far too long for a club this size.

FA Cup, I’d hope for a good run, we face Blackburn Rovers in that as well, going to be a strange month playing them so often!

Then there is the league? As long as we give it our all, improve on last season (6th, and the season before) then I would think most fans, the owners and the manager would be fairly happy. If we can break the top four I’m sure there will be much joy – although grumpy old arse here, I can’t help but remember the days when you aimed to be 1st not just in the top four, I really am not a fan of the ‘champions’ league. How can it be a league for champions when 2nd, 3rd and 4th losers are also in it? Why not cup winners instead? Ho hum, I said I was a grumpy arse!

7. What is your match prediction?

I’d take a draw but will be gunning (you see what I’ve done there… I really am so clever) for a 1-0 win, don’t care how scruffy a game it is, just want those points!

With thanks to JP Fear from Vital Villa. Click here to read my interview there: Click Here