ASTON VILLA'S POSITION in the league says they have been inconsistent at times, but they did enjoy a good run over the Christmas period. We keep talking about coming out of the holiday programme and being able to push on and make progress. It is probably what Villa are hoping for, although their last result against West Ham was not the best.
We got a big result against Villa at the Lane last season and we are all looking forward to the day when we have a real comfortable win again, particularly as a coach because of what you go through on the touchline. At 0-0 it is always nerve-racking, while at 1-0 there is always the worry over conceding - like the West Ham game when they levelled in the last few minutes.
It would be good to score enough goals to be comfortable, but what we have become is a more consistant side and maybe sometimes you sacrifice a little bit of your open play - which attracts goals at both ends - to become more solid.
We have certainly still got the ability to record a big scoreline and have enough quality to score the goals.
Hopefully it will come for us, it is all on the day and getting your goals at the right time in order to deflate the opposition.
Aston Villa tend to adopt a 4-4-2 shape and Milan Baros gives them a directness up front and they missed him a lot when he was out. He is back now and we are told that Kevin Phillips has a good chance of being involved and that is another big player for them.
They have always been quite a solid team, with generally that little bit of flair in the wide areas. Lee Hendrie is one who has been there a good while now and can be a significant influence on the team and style. Steven Davis in centre midfield has, I think, scored five goals already this season and we remember him well from last season when he made his debut against us. We were told then he was a very attack minded midfielder who will get into the box.
Gavin McCann is another back in the fold and I think he is important to them. He provides a solidness in the middle of the park and is one you always regard as a 90 minute player - the type that most clubs like to have, a good pro.
Gareth Barry is one who seems to have been there forever and has played a lot of games since joining from Brighton.
If I look at the two wide areas it would be Hendrie and James Milner, with Milner giving them a little more direct play from the flanks and Hendrie coming infield more.
We are looking for the three points and you get used to saying nothing else. All games are difficult, but we are at home where we have a good record and if we are going to finish the season in the position we want to then we've got to make the most of these opportunities.
Chris Hughton offers his regular assessment on forthcoming opponents - this time Aston Villa at the Lane on Saturday...