Goals For Martin

Last updated : 02 January 2009 By Tom Vickers
10. Wallop Wenger

O'Neill squared up to the Gunners gaffer when Villa drew with Arsenal on Boxing day last year and the Northern Irish boss will be hoping to knock the Frenchman out of the top four in 2009.

9. English Empire

If Martin gets his way then the national side will be entirely made up of Villa players. He is well on his way with no fewer than nine Englishmen in the Villans starting 11 against Hull in the final game of 2008.
Ashley Young, Gareth Barry, James Milner and Gabby Agbonlahor are already catching Capello's eye, but what chance Villa adding Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard to their squad in order to create an English monopoly?

8. Nurse Laursen

O'Neill will be hoping to get his injured skipper back as soon as possible as Villa look to finish in the Premier League top four.
Danish defender Laursen was a rock in the Claret and Blue defence throughout 2008 and hopefully it will be much of the same in '09.

7. Beat The Blues

Villa's favourite rivals Birmingham City are flying unfortunately high in the Championship at the moment and O'Neill could be facing Alex McLeish sooner than he thinks.
Villa have finally been given a favourable F.A. Cup draw and with Blues facing Wolves at St Andrews, could a fourth round meeting be on the cards?
If not, Villa's Northern Irish boss will just have to settle for a clash next season and he will be hoping for a repeat of the 5-1 mauling that his side dished out at Villa Park during the last campaign.

6. Summer Strengthening

Randy Lerner has never been shy with his cash and O'Neill will be looking for more money to bolster his squad when the season ends.
Should Villa qualify for the Champions League, he is entitled to expect a large war chest to make his side real contenders.

5. European Excitement

Villa face Russian giants CSKA Moscow in February. The second leg will be played in the bleak winter weather surroundings of the Luzhniki Stadium and a plastic pitch could prove problematic in the tie.
But, O'Neill once masterminded a Uefa Cup final appearance for Celtic and if they can do it why shouldn't Villa?
A tie against Tottenham in the next round could also come to fruition if the North London side shock Shakhtar.

4. Up For The Cup

Finally, Villa have escaped the clutches of Manchester United in the F.A. Cup third round and they travel to Gillingham on Sunday hoping to ease through.
It won't be as simple as that because as all Villa fans know, we rarely do things the easy way. But, the omens are good for O'Neill because the last time the Claret and Blue faced League Two/ Third division opposition at this stage they reached the final. Does Wembley beckon once more?

3. Striking Success

Jermain Defoe, Kevin Doyle and Emile Heskey - just three names to be linked with Villa on a consistent basis during 2008. How we could do with just one of them during the January transfer window as Gabby Agbonlahor continues to carry the goalscoring burden.
With John Carew out with a long term injury, Villa desperately need reinforcements and as O'Neill is seemingly disillusioned with Marlon Harewood, signings must be made soon.
The First XI is undoubtedly talented but the back ups are just not good enough to play on a consistent basis. Some have not been given a fair chance but other just don't deserve one.
Heskey looks the best bet as Villa need a targetman and O'Neill rarely takes a punt on players. He worked with the England striker at Leicester and as a partnership they really worked.

2. Battle For Barry

With Liverpool sniffing around in the summer of 2008, Villa somehow managed to keep their then captain. Since that time, Barry has been integral in Villa's success this season and although he is no longer first choice for the armband, the midfielder still has a big influence.
Barry keeps the ball well in the middle of the park and sprays it around to all corners with ease. Make no mistake, without him Villa would not be where they are today.
Yes, he has had his doubters and that is understandable, but he keeps going and keeps Villa on the road to success.
If the Claret and Blue do reach the Champions League, Barry will probably stay. Let's just hope Villa can end the season where they started it (albeit alphabetically) - in the top four.

1. Big Four Breakdown

The faint hope for any aspiring Premier League club, an impossible goal, something that is dreamt of for the likes of Villa, Tottenham and Man City, but never attained.
A top four finish has for so long looked so far away but could this finally be Villa's year? They sit in fourth place going into 2009, three points ahead of Arsenal.
They have been awesome on the road and are improving at home. The Claret and Blue have the chance to breach the Big Four, topple the continuous table toppers.
If O'Neill has one aim this year it is to finish the season in the top four. He has rested players in the Uefa Cup and Carling Cup in order to keep the squad fresh for league matches.
We know what he wants. But, can he go all the way and get it?