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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Must-win game for us if we're to stay up there with a chance. Middlesbrough came to Villa Park earlier in the season and snatched a surprise 3 points; one of only 3 sides to win at VP this season. However, our last trip to the Riverside produced our only away win of the season last year, winning emphatically 5-2.

The other games at the weekend that concern us:

Chelsea vs. Newcastle (Chelsea won 5-0 earlier in the season- let's hope for a repeat)
Manchester Utd vs. Liverpool (This one will be close but hopefully United will do us a favour)
Birmingham vs. Wolves (Realistically, B'ham should win this one but you never know with Wolves)

and Charlton, play their game in hand against Man Utd tonight. It's at Old Trafford so really they should do us another favour and beat the Addicks.

The players we've had available this season have done an amazing job- playing week in, week out. The ever-present's especially, such as Jlloyd Samuel, have really given us Villa fan's something to cheer about this season. I would never have guessed that we would be disappointed with a draw with Newcastle as we were last week- it just shows how far we have come if we are showing disappointment at not going 4th in the league. But it's been great- just 4 games remaining- hopefully exciting times ahead as the season comes to a close.

Anyway, this is how I expect us to line-up at the Riverside:

---------------------------SORENSEN---------------------------

----DELANEY?----MELLBERG----JOHNSEN?----SAMUEL----

----SOLANO----McCANN----HITZLSPERGER----BARRY----

---------------------VASSELL-----CROUCH---------------------


I'm not too sure on Delaney and Johnsen- they are both in contention for a start on Saturday, but both face races to be fit in time. If neither can make it, expect De La Cruz and Ridgewell to fill in. McCann should be available, which is a bonus as he will come in as a straight replacement for the suspended Lee Hendrie.

Anyway, big game, big opportunity to put pressure on Liverpool and Newcastle who have difficult games coming up- I think we can take this chance:

MIDDLESBROUGH 1
Nemeth

ASTON VILLA 3
Vassell (2)
Solano


All news, views and previews to be posted here.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
JOHSNEN FITNESS VOW

Ronny Johnsen has vowed to win his race to be fit for Saturday's vital trip to Middlesbrough, after limping out of the goalless draw with Newcastle.

The veteran defender needed five stitches is a deep knee gash, sustained in the dying minutes of Sunday's Premiership top-six clash.

But he said: "I'll be fine for Middlesbrough. I took a stud in my knee and it was a deep gash. But I've had stitches now and I'll be OK."

Villa will be without the suspended Lee Hendrie at The riverside, but Gavin McCann hopes to shake-off the ankle injury that ruled him out of the game with Newcastle.
 

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Hmmm not sure about this one - but logic has it that we've played one bad game and bounced back in the next

Middlesboro 0

Villa 1
Vassell
 

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I think it's a good time to play M'brough. Haven't seen an away game of Villa this year, but I dare to say you'll not lose.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
We have made a big improvement this season away from home which wasn't too hard - we only won 1 game away from home last season under Graham Taylor whereas this season we have managed away successes at:

Blackburn (2-0)
Leicester City (5-0)
Fulham (2-1)
Wolves (4-0)
Charlton (2-1)

Hopefully Middlesbrough should be added to that list come Saturday- we can't allow them to complete a domestic double over us this season.
 

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Also it would be humilating with Southgate and Ehiough there - lets show them that they left the better club!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
ANGEL BOOST FOR VILLA

Juan Pablo Angel has returned to training and could yet play a part in Aston Villa's clash with Middlesbrough on Saturday.

The Colombian striker, who has scored 21 goals this season, has missed the last three matches with an ankle injury.

Manager David O'Leary said: "He's not far away. But I don't want people getting carried away. He's been out for weeks and the programme was always to step him up on Thursday.

"He's not ahead of schedule. But in terms of his positive attitude, he is very good at wanting to get on with things. He's no wuss.

"If we were able to call on him on Saturday it would be a tremendous boost, because his scoring record is fantastic."


:):):)
 

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If we have Angel back then I can really see us winning this match!
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Yeah we should do really. With McCann, Johnsen and Angel all strong candidates to be fit in time for tomorrow, we could be looking at this as our starting XI:

---------------------------SORENSEN---------------------------

----DE LA CRUZ----MELLBERG----JOHNSEN----SAMUEL----

----SOLANO----McCANN----HITZLSPERGER----BARRY----

---------------------VASSELL-----ANGEL---------------------


Other than Delaney, who could be on the bench tomorrow and the suspended Lee Hendrie- Pretty much a full strength side wouldn't you agree :)...
 

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VillaBoro 1

Aston Villa 0

Think this is going to be one woeful scrappy match with one or 2 goals in it. Whoever gets the first is gonna win it in my opinion.

Great news about Juan, but id expect him to play 45-60 mins tops really.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
1-1 :)

What a time to score- in the last minute of the first half right after going 1-0 down. Gareth Barry with a header from a Hitzlsperger free-kick. We've given ourselves a good chance now...
 

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Discussion Starter #13
2-1 VILLA!!!!

The 10-men have somehow pulled it off- I can't believe it- the second half has been all Boro' since Solano's sending off and I could see them scoring- it was all a case of us holding on. But Peter Crouch who came on for Angel about 10 minutes ago has done it for us. With Liverpool 1-0 up against Man Utd- we needed this oh so badly and it's happened for us :D:D:D..
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Remarkable :D

A season-high 5th place is ours as we sit on 52 points just a point behind Liverpool. It's a shame United couldn't do us a favour there. This all seems too good to be true but i'm a happy man at the moment :). We can just sit back and watch tomorrow knowing we've already done the business today. Wolves and Chelsea wins tomorrow will cap off a perfect weekend :D...
 

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Yeah once Nobby got sent off I thought once again it would be the 10 man curse! And JG saying that it was all Villa I could see us losing this one or at best getting another position destroying draw! But luck was on our side this time and we managed to snatch it in the final minutes - revenge for all those times we have conceded during this period. We manage to keep pressure on L'pool and Newcastle and hope that Chelsea can do us a favour.

Adam - you must be happy that Crouch the giraffe has scored!!! :)
 

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LAST-GASP CROUCH SINKS BORO
Saturday 24th April 2004
Middlesbrough 1-2 Aston Villa

Substitute Peter Crouch's last-gasp goal earned ten-man Aston Villa an unlikely 2-1 win over Middlesbrough to boost their UEFA Champions League hopes.
The beanpole striker netted a minute from time to give Villa all three points after Nolberto Solano was sent off early in the second half.

Gareth Barry had cancelled out Joseph Desire Job's opener for Middlesbrough on the stroke of half time although Middlesbrough will be wondering how they did not win the game after Solano's sending off.

Middlesbrough had the first noteworthy chance of the game with Gaizka Mendieta firing a free kick from the edge of the box just over the crossbar.

The visitors were starting to come more and more into the game and Darius Vassell created a chance from nothing on 11 minutes when he beat former team-mate Ugo Ehiogu to a long ball downfield to go clear on goal, but Mark Schwarzer stood up well to keep out his effort with his feet.

Villa had two chances within a minute to break the deadlock with George Boateng getting a good block to divert Nolberto Solano's shot and then Thomas Hitzlsperger firing a volley from 15 yards into the side-netting after the home side had failed to clear from a corner.

The visitors were trying to catch Middlesbrough on the break and Franck Queudrue made a last-gasp block to keep out Juan Pablo Angel's goalbound shot on 24 minutes.

Middlesbrough should have opened the scoring on the half hour when Schwarzer released Mendieta free down the right with a long clearance and he in turn put Massimo Maccarone in on goal, but Thomas Sorensen was quickly off his line to keep out the Italian's left-footed effort.

The home side were now enjoying the best period of the game and Olof Mellberg had to be alert to prevent Job getting a shot in from Mendieta's inviting cross and a minute later Juninho dragged a shot well wide from the edge of the area.

Boateng was denied a goal against his old club five minutes before the break with a blistering left-footed shot from the edge of the area which Sorensen at full stretch acrobatically tipped over the bar.

Middlesbrough made their dominance count on 42 minutes when Mendieta cleverly picked out Job unmarked in the box and the Cameroon striker blasted his left-footed shot into the roof of the net.

Their lead proved short-lived as Villa drew level right on the stroke of half time with Barry heading home Hitzlsperger's inswinging free kick.

Villa suffered a major blow ten minutes into the second half when Nolberto Solano was sent off for violent conduct after appearing to elbow Boateng.

The Peruvian winger seemed to aim a kick and raise his hand toward's Boateng's head although the Dutchman's reaction was a little over the top.

Middlesbrough almost made their numerical advantage count straight away with Maccarone running clear onto Mendieta's pass and seeing his attempted lob clawed away by Sorensen and then Job fired the rebound wide of the post.

The home side laid siege to the Villa goal in search of a second goal and Mendieta was denied on the hour with a superb save from Sorensen as the Dane brilliantly tipped the Spanish star's shot round the post.

Villa had a lucky escape minutes later when Ronny Johnsen headed the ball from just under his own crossbar and then Sorensen punching the ball away from the lurking Maccarone.

Juninho wasted a good opportunity on 73 minutes when he shot straight at Sorensen after a neat one-two with Mendieta.

Middlesbrough threw everything in attack and Boudewijn Zenden thought he had given them the lead on 75 minutes with a powerful left-footed shot from the edge of the area, but Sorensen again flung himself to keep out the Dutchman's shot.

It was one-way traffic late on and Juninho missed another great chance when he blazed over the crossbar from 12 yards.

Villa hit Middlesbrough with a real sucker punch a minute from time with Crouch reacting quickest to tap home from close-range after Schwarzer could only palm out Ulises De la Cruz's powerful shot into the giant striker's path.
 

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O'LEARY UPSET WITH BOATENG PLAY-ACTING
Saturday 24th April 2004

David O'Leary was scathing about George Boateng's role in Nolberto Solano's sending off at Middlesbrough.
Ten-man Aston Villa produced a spirited performance to clinch a 2-1 victory with Peter Crouch netting a late winner.

Nolberto Solano was sent off for his second yellow card after a clash with former Villan Boateng with the Boro man overreacting to a flick from the Peruvian.

"The referee ruined the game with the sending off," said O'Leary.

"It was like last week and it's about breaking a team down. We couldn't last week against Newcastle and Middlesbrough couldn't today.

"We were dangerous on the break and I fancied us to win today.

"I was disappointed with the incident. I thought the ref was going to book their player, not send one of ours off.

"It changed the game as it's not in my nature to play like that but we got a great bonus of getting three points.

"I thought Boateng was a bit stronger than that.

"Ten out of ten for rolling around on the ground. I thought it was fantastic.

"I threw down the challenge before the game and said I fancied them to win. They're not the greatest in the world by any means but we're sticking together and there's three to go."
 

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Just seen the highlights on the Premiership and although I felt we shaded the first half - we were incredably lucky in the 2nd! Sorensen and Mellberg had a magnificance defensive game for us! And our second goal really was a smash and grab goal - although good positioning and awareness from Crouch.

Boateng's dive was a disgrace though - yes Nobby deserved to be sent off but there was no need for George to go down like he was shot - memories of Brazil v Turkey and Rivaldo's play-acting!
 

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Too bad Liverpool won too, though...:(
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Yeah, if United would have won, we would have been 4th and clear of Liverpool by 2 points.

Sorensen without a doubt was our player of the match- he made some incredible saves. Noteably from Boateng's strike and Zenden's. Mellberg too had another excellent game in defence- their hardwork actually paid off.

I couldn't stop laughing at Crouch's celebrations yesterday- he couldn't control his excitement but it was great to see the whole team celebrate and to see David O'Leary with a big smile on his face. We all knew it was a classic example of a smash and grab; but who cares?- the 3 valuable points belong to us :D..
 
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