Bigger Than Barca - Real?

Forget Arsenal Vs Chelsea, Liverpool against Everton or even El Clasico – the most gargantuan game of the weekend comes at in the Midlands as Villa take on Tottenham Hotspur.

The cast list at the aforementioned games may be much more elite, but at Villa Park on Saturday night there will be blood, thunder and a large dollop of desire.

Martin O’Neill’s Villa will be desperate to win for a number of reasons. For the first motivation we must look back a few months to March.

The third month of the year was preceded by a pretty awful February, in terms of form, for the Claret and Blue. By the time Spurs visited in mid-March, O’Neill’s side were struggling to score never mind win.

Harry Redknapp’s resurgent team, needless to say, took all three points thanks to goals from Jermaine Jenas and Darren Bent and continued to pour water on the slippery slope that their hosts had been on for too long.

Villa will aim to prove they are better this time around but their opponents are now a much more formidable outfit than they were last time the teams met.

Redknapp has joyfully nicked Jermain Defoe from Pompey and added a few others besides, which now makes the top four a real target for Spurs.


They infamously thumped Wigan 9-1 last Sunday and confidence couldn’t be much higher at the club - they may even be considering changing the name of their stadium from White Hart Lane to White Hot Lane.

Defoe, who was described as the best finisher in England by his boss after that game, will be a real danger but his arrival in the Midlands should act as a spur for fellow international hit man – Gabby Agbonlahor.

The Villa speedster is out to prove he can mix it with the best in the Premier League and on Saturday he will get his chance.

Fabio Capello will undoubtedly be in attendance, as the so called main event games of the weekend at the Emirates and Goodison Park don’t take place until super Sunday.

Agbonlahor will want to put on a show and he will be aiming to put Defoe in the dark on a day when there should be a few highlights.

Capello realistically has one striking space left for the World Cup in South Africa, with Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Peter Crouch and probably Emile Heskey almost certain to make the trip.


Agbonlahor has the raw pace that can trouble defenders and if he can fire the Villa into the Premier League top four then he must be guaranteed a spot on the plane. Therein lays the final nudge for O’Neill’s men to see off Spurs. If they manage to defeat the men from the Lane, then Villa are in the big four box seat.

Liverpool are floundering and Manchester City are...well...drawing, so the showpiece in the Midlands could decide a lot. Ok, so it won’t mean that one or the other finish in the Champions League place at the end of the season but it could have a huge psychological bearing.

Should Defoe and co win, then they will be six points ahead of the Villans. That is quite a gap and with the reverse fixture set to take place in London, the men from the second city would find themselves with a mini-mountain to climb.

But, if O’Neill’s side do what they did to Liverpool earlier in the campaign, it is game on! Villa would hold the edge and all of the confidence that Redknapp’s rioters obtained last weekend would be gone.

Maybe there are a few people in Wigan who will also find this clash more fanciful than Arsenal against Chelsea etc if only to see their conquerors brought back down to earth.

It may have almost been forgotten in the midst of all the fantasy affairs taking place a day later, but viewers of Villa Vs Spurs should have plenty of reasons to be cheerful.