After last weekend’s disappointing draw with Queens Park Rangers thanks to a late Richard Dunne own goal, Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish is now gearing his squad for what on paper seems to be a straightforward home fixture against Wigan Athletic. Former Latics man Charles N’Zogbia left the DW Stadium this summer to join McLeish at Villa Park and now faces up to his former side for the first time since the £9.5m move.
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has backed his former player to start to show the quality within after a disappointing opening start to his Villa career. The Frenchman played a key role in Wigan’s survival last season and Martinez holds a high level of affection for the 25-year-old.
Martinez said: “It
Despite the evident affection from the Wigan manager for his former player, Martinez is hoping that N’Zogbia does not find his form for the weekend’s clash at Villa Park. Villa have five players returning from injury for the game with striker Darren Bent and loan signing Jermaine Jenas ready for action. Last weekend’s draw preserved Villa’s unbeaten record in the Premier League this season, but their form has been patchy so far and McLeish is calling for a solid performance on Saturday.
McLeish said: “I know people feel we should be winning more games or playing superb football. We have to play and turn up like we did in the second half at the weekend and like we did in the second half at Everton and play for the entire 90 minutes”
The former Birmingham City manager has inherited a squad who had struggled under the stewardship of former boss Gerard Houllier last season and managed to turn them around with strong discipline learnt under Sir Alex Ferguson when the pair were at Aberdeen.
Villa’s manager has now introduced a system at Villa Park where if a player receives five bookings and gets suspended by the FA, they will face a fine from the club too. McLeish is worried about suspensions ravaging his small squad and is ready to take action to stop any problems.
Midfielder Barry Bannan scored Villa’s goal in the 1-1 draw with QPR and he has been given the player of the month honours for September. The Scotland international has put together a string of impressive performances and has cemented his place within the Villa starting line-up.
Bannan’s form has been one of the positives for Villa fans, who are praying that three points and a good performance against Wigan on Saturday will lift their spirits. Villa will have their big guns back in the side and should get the three points to stop a run of four draws on the bounce.
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