After failing to pick up three points against Sunderland on Saturday, it's a big week for Villa; we begin our daily link roundup with a quick look at how Wednesday's opponent Southampton has turned into such a formidable side.
Fans chairmen and managers of every Premier League club should be paying very close attention to what's happening at St. Mary's; Southampton is pouring a great deal of money into a modern and comprehensive scouting department, attempts to make sure foreign players become acclimated to their new home more quickly, and cutting-edge medical and fitness programs. These steps-as well as the guidance of chairman Nicola Cortese and manager Mauricio Pochettino-have Southampton punching above their weight so far this season, with a seemingly sustainable long-term plan to continue their growth. It's a fascinating-if somewhat disheartening-read.
Shay Given started for Middlesborough just days after arriving on a month-long loan, and things went pretty well for the veteran keeper; Given registered a clean sheet in Boro's 1-0 win over Bolton. That's good for Given, who has handled his demotion with as much grace and professionalism as could be expected, and it's good for Villa as well. If he can perform well for the duration of his loan spell, it's going to be much easier for the club to find someone willing to take him on a permanent basis.
There are a few World Cup draw simulators kicking around, but this one is the best of the bunch; not only is the draw simulated, the entire tournament is as well. My first simulation has the US beating Brazil to win the whole thing, so I'm choosing to believe that everything it says is the gospel truth.
This guy is, to use the common parlance, a total boss.