With the new season at hand, we decided that it was time for Friday Feedback to make a comeback. In case you don't remember it, the general idea is that a question is posed to the entire staff of 7500 to Holte each week, and we all give quick little answers. Sometimes we will tackle serious topics, sometimes we'll go with patently absurd ones. Either way, while we have fun answering, the real point of this is to get YOUR answers. So after you've read what we have to say (or ignored it, take your pick).
Better still, once you've given your answer, feel free to leave a potential question for future editions. We're happy to come up with things on our own, but it's more interesting for everyone if we're answering what you'd like to hear us go on about.So make sure to leave your answers, and if you've got them, give us a question too!
So, without further ado, let's get right on to the business at hand!
This Week's Question: All week long we've been predicting what we think will happen to Aston Villa and football in general over the course of the season. That's big picture stuff though. Let's look at the smaller picture: what is your prediction (score and outcome) for Saturday's match at West Ham?
Aaron: I'm not going to go so far as to say that West Ham is a good team, because I'm not an idiot (I don't think.) But I do think that they've been underestimated to some extent by a lot of people; Ricardo Vaz Tê was absolutely tremendous last season, they've got a solid (if uncreative) midfield, and their defense should be quite good. When you combine the fact that West Ham has a decent amount of talent with the fact that they're managed by Sam Allardyce, no game against them looks especially easy for any team in the Premier League. They'll get waxed a fair few times, but they'll also pull out a few fairly unlikely victories. They're a tough team to really get a read on. But without knowing how effective the Allar-dicing will be in this game, I think Villa have to be considered favorites; they've got an undeniable (and fairly sizable) edge in talent and I don't think they're going to be as vulnerable to kick-and-rush as they have been at times in the past. I'm calling this one 2-1 for Villa.
Andrew: Starting off a season with West Ham gives me warm and fuzzies. Two seasons ago, Villa opened at home against West Ham and James Milner scored in a 3-0 win in what proved to be his last game in claret and blue and Kevin MacDonald's first as manager. The joy was not meant to last and we all know what happened from there. I think we even held out a small bit of naive hope that Milner would change his mind and stay. Anyway, despite the crap that followed I still hold that one match, in a vacuum, in very high regard.
Here's the opener to the first review of that match I could find:
Following Martin O'Neill's shock departure on Monday, a club who have secured European qualification three seasons running were bracing for a sharp downturn. On the basis of their dominance against West Ham, their fortunes may hold out for a while longer.
That is so incredibly depressing. But it does illustrate an important point: the final outcome of a season in no way hinges on the performance from opening weekend. Of course we want three points and we want them in style. I get the sense the Lambert Era is going to be a work in progress - but I think it will be a labor of love. And I think away to West Ham is a nice first step: playing a newly promoted side but not in the comforts of hope. Just enough of a curve to get an idea of where Villa stand. I'm going to call a 2-1 win for Villa. West Ham is going to be very fired up to be back in the top flight but Darren Bent is going to score twice and Villa are going to win. We will all be impressed by Karim El Ahmadi. The end.
Gareth: West Ham will be desperate to prove they belong back in the Premier League, and Sam Allardyce's bruising big man brand of football could trouble what is still a pretty inexperienced backline. That said, I have faith in Paul Lambert's motivational skills and hopefully Villa's quality will be enough to get all three points. A 2-1 win away from Villa Park would be a fantastic start to the new season.
Kirsten: A 1-1 draw because West Ham have a point to prove and they'll be brutal. Also because this is not a fairytale and I just don't expect that the season will start off with a rush of happies. And in a way, I'm ok with that -- Andrew has already talked about the last season opener against the Irons, and look how that turned out? I'd rather start off slow and be able to love football again.
But no matter the outcome, I'll be up bright and early on Saturday, dressed in my Bazza kit and ready to celebrate the return of the Villa! [Robert note: awwwwwww]
Matt: I'm fairly optimistic for the season as a whole, but for this opening match, I feel rather pessimistic. Maybe its because we could never beat Allardyce's Blackburn teams in the league. (Despite beating them 1,452 times in the League and FA Cups.) Or maybe because winning in Paul Lambert's first competitive match in charge seems way too nice and fun after last season. But then I remembered our opponent. So I'll go with 2-0 Villa, because West Ham.
Robert: Sure, West Ham are coming into this game with a lot to prove. And yes, they play a rough style. But Aston Villa are clearly the better team, and they too have a lot to prove. I think Villa come out and play some really great possession football and end up scoring 2 goals. That said, there has to be a bump (right?), so I say we give up a goal on a set-piece too. Final: West Ham 1-2 Villa.
So what do you think? Let us know below!