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Rafa seeks Villa Park repeat

Rafa van der Vaart would love a repeat of his last visit to Villa Park as we push on for a place in the Premier League’s top four this weekend.

The Dutch star grabbed both goals in our excellent 2-1 win on Boxing Day, 2010, when we went down to 10 men following an early red card to Jermain Defoe but played some superb football to take maximum points.

The winner won BBC Match of the Day’s Goal of the Month, a quick counter-attack led by Gareth Bale, onto Aaron Lennon and finished in typical style by Rafa.

“Yes, I’ve great memories of that game,” said Rafa. “I scored twice that day and this is another massive game. We have to win and they have to win, so it will be interesting.

“There is a lot of pressure and not just for us, but for them as well.”

Rafa was on target again in Wednesday’s 4-1 win at Bolton – another classy finish from a counter-attack – as we maintained our fourth place in the table.

It was a big night in the race for Champions League places as Newcastle won 2-0 at Chelsea to stay level on points with us in fourth but hit Chelsea’s hopes – they are now four points adrift in sixth.

Both ourselves and Newcastle are just a point behind Arsenal in third and it’s another fascinating weekend as the Gunners host Norwich on Saturday before we travel to Villa and Newcastle play host to title-chasing City on Sunday.

“There are two games to go, but it feels like there is still a long way to go” admitted Rafa.

“Newcastle won again at Chelsea, a good win for them and we are now only a point behind Arsenal, so anything is possible.

“We just have to concentrate on what we have to do at Villa.”