Villans look to nick three points from the Royals

Last updated : 11 January 2008 By Tom Vickers
Last season, Villa took on Reading at Villa Park in what was Martin O'Neill's first home hame in charge and Reading's first away game in the Premiership. Just look how far the team have come since then.
Villa have consolidated after a mid table finish in Martin O'Neill's first full season and Reading have also built strong foundations after a great maiden campaign.
The Villans have undergone somewhat of a transitional period and strengthened with influencial signings such as Ashley Young. They have also seen an improvement from within by players such as Gabby Agbonlahor and O'Neill has been quick to rid the club of high earning, low performing players.
In the mean time, Steve Coppell has seen his name join O'Neill's in the England job rumour mill. He has also managed to prove that the Royals are not a one seson wonder as they enter 2008 in a strong position to stay in the Premier League. In fact they have the same home record as the high flying Villans, which reads: Won 6, drawn 1, lost 4. This is particularly impressive and if it werent for their winless run on the road, they could easily be in the same sort of position as that of last year.
The likely starting XI's on Saturday, reflect just how the team's have been managed since the last meeting in the Midlands.
The Claret and Blue line-up will probably only contain three players that featured last season, those three being Barry, Mellberg and Agbonlahor. 
The Reading team in comparison looks likely to show little change and as many as seven of the same players may start.
The home side are likely to name an unchanged team from the 2-0 defeat to Manchester United last weekend with the less than full fit John Carew again starting up front. This shows how desperate O'Neill is in the striker department, which explains why Reading's Kevin Doyle among others have been touted as possible targets.
The Irishman is very much part of the Royal's Crown Jewels and Coppell will have him under high security protection to ensure that he leaves Villa Park after the game.
Doyle is almost certain to start up front and he will probably partner Dave Kitson, who has been in fine form this season.
Brynjar Gunnarsson is back for the Coppell's men and he may replace Michael Duberry who is doubtful.
Coppell will be without Andre Bikey, Ibrahima Sonko and Emerson Fae after they were called up to play in the African Cup of Nations.
Villa will look to rob the Royals of the three points this weekend and it's likely that this could be a thriller. Neither team is shy in going forward, least of all Reading who have been involved in 6-4 and 7-4 defeats so far this season.
Who will be King when O'Neill and Coppell meet on Saturday? Who knows? But the battle for the throne should be a cracker!