Tomorrow, Newcastle United come to Villa Park for the first fixture of this season from which Aston Villa will actually be expected to take three points. Newcastle are no longer the same club that gave Villa a 6-0 thrashing upon their return to the Premier League and followed that up with a season spent contending for a Champions League spot. On the contrary, they've had a comical offseason and an unimpressive start to the season. Alan Pardew has badly overstayed his welcome (despite being signed to a contract one could describe as Given-esque) and Joe Kinnear is a really tragic joke that will definitely end up managing the club again at some point, to everyone's chagrin. There will be more posts on the upcoming match to follow, so here are some links to tide you over:
As Aston Villa fans, we're all still suffering from a bit of post-traumatic stress disorder when it comes to managerial turbulence. Lest we forget, Villa went from O'Neill to Macdonald to Houllier to McAllister to McLeish to Lambert all in the time since the last World Cup. This post gives a bit of detail to the truth we already knew: that stability is the only way forward.
Fun fact: my only experience of a real live Aston Villa match was in the away end of the Emirates stadium. From what I recall, it was pretty nice! The coffee was a bit expensive, and very shit, but we won so who cares. A lot of people would probably be annoyed by measures such as this, but those people are incurable bores who think soccer has never been the same since it was all in black and white and the whole crowd wore flat caps.
For my money, Counter Attack is the best soccer blog on the internet right now, and a large part of that is due to Richard Whittall finding niches and writing the hell out of them. I'd disagree with his characterization of Olivier Giroud as a "not-that-great striker," particularly given the Frenchman's hot start to the season, but it's a fair point that Mesut Ozil has been rather blessed with targets over the last few years. Still, there's no player that I'm more excited to see on a weekly basis.