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Reserve League Format Set for 2011-12: Aston Villa in South With Newcomers Swansea and Norwich City

One of the best parts of being an Aston Villa supporter is knowing that there is an exceptionally strong youth system behind the first team. The success of the reserve squad hasn't always translated to the team we all regularly watch, but that's to be expected. Young talent is unpredictable, but the important thing is to have enough to give your team good odds in the youngster lottery.

So it's good to see that the Barclay's Premier Reserve League will be back again this year, and that Aston Villa are participating. This year, the league will be split into two eight-team divisions, with each team playing the other teams in its division twice, and those outside once. Over the course of these 22 games, division winners will be determined, and they will have a play-off match for the Reserve League title. The dates and times of matches have not been released yet, but we'll keep an eye on that for you.

Villa may have gotten lucky in some ways, as their South division includes the reserve squads of new EPL teams Swansea and Norwich City. Queens Park Rangers, as well as Manchester City, Stoke, and Tottenham won't be participating. But to balance the benefits of facing teams that should be weaker, Villa have defending champions Chelsea in their division. Also playing in the South will be Arsenal, Fulham, West Bromwich Albion, and Wolverhampton.

In the North, Bolton, Manchester United, Liverpool, Sunderland, Newcastle, Blackburn, Wigan, and Everton will face off. Look for updates on Aston Villa's efforts in the league as the season approaches.