The big story of today is that Sky Sports and the Daily Mail were incredibly wrong and that Arsenal have not put in a bid for Stewart Downing, nor do they have much interest in doing so. If you missed Kirsten's write-up of that, be sure to give it a read. Otherwise, let's get to the other news of the day.
Numbers have been assigned for Aston Villa, and to the surprise of no one, Darren Bent has received number 9. More shocking, however, is that Stephen Ireland got number 7. I don't think most of us expected Ireland to play a role in the coming campaign for Aston Villa, let alone one of enough significance to merit his wearing 7. But Mat Kendrik reports that Ireland wants to win over fans again, and he'll be given the chance to do so by Alex McLeish.I can't imagine that this will make too many fans happy, but I can't see how it could possibly hurt to give Ireland another shot at finding what made him so special with Manchester City a few years ago. It caught me by surprise to read that Ireland is only 24 years old. He's at a point in life when many players are inconsistent and hard to deal with. But he has talent, as he's shown in the past. Villa are stuck paying him (even if they traded him, I imagine they'd have to foot some of the wage bill), so why not take a chance? If he's bad, we already see him as a sunk cost. If he turns out to be good again, it's as if Villa made a decent signing this summer.
- Speaking of signings, the team still haven't made one. But one man who keeps being connected to the lions is Wigan's Charles N'Zogbia. But buried in this Express and Star story about Arsenal and Stewart Downing is a statement from Wigan's owner that he values the winger in the 20-30 million pound range. Which, let's all be honest here, is patently absurd. Stewart Downing is a better player than N'Zogbia, and the 20 million valuation Aston Villa have given him is probably too high. I understand the concept that clubs may value a player more than his market value, but come on Dave Whelan. It's time to take the train back from Crazy-ville.
- Villa are not prepared to make a move for Tottenham defender Alan Hutton, says Mat Kendrick. But I wouldn't give you a link to a non-story. Instead, what's interesting here is the fact that McLeish plans on using Stephen Warnock at left back, moving Luke Young to right back, and have Habib Beye and Eric Lichaj as cover for the two. Two years ago, Aston Villa had one of the best defensive lines in the Premier League, and it involved some of these players. You can't blame McLeish for trying to make the most with the talent on-hand. And if anyone can do something with Villa's back four, it's McLeish. Say what you will about the Scot, but he does know how to build a defense on the cheap.