Date: 17th March 2010 at 9:18am
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Akela and Aston Villa’s Young Jonah talk about Villa’s hopes against Chelsea, our team selection against Man Utd and the little matter of our match on Saturday:

So how has your season been so far?

It`s been pretty good, lost some key players in the summer (Barry and Laursen) but Mr O`Neill brought in 4 brilliant players to replace them Downing, Delph, Dunne and Collins. We have had some memorable wins again this season, beating Liverpool at Anfield and Manchester United at Old Trafford, plus a trip to Wembley and another to come. All in all a good season, just hope it doesn`t all go Pete Tong like it did last March, when we went out of the cups and dropped from 4th to 6th in the league. Got some big games coming and I really hope we can make the FA Cup final and finish 5th or maybe even 4th!!

What did you think of Mick McCarthy’s team selection for our match at Old Trafford? It might have been a few months ago, but it still divides opinion!

My personal opinion is that every player in the squad is a professional footballer and are all paid handsomely, one thing I find frustrating as a Villa fan is our manager`s unwillingness to utilise his squad. So I was fully behind McCarthy in that sense for giving his fringe players a chance to play and show what they can do at the home of the Champions, maybe he should of played his strongest 11 but why is there a witch hunt every time a side plays the fringe players? Who are at the end of the day, professional footballers just like the 11 players ahead of them in the pecking order.

It`s not like he fielded a bunch of kids, there were some very experienced players in that line up, so fair play to him.

So was McCarthy vindicated when he then selected a different eleven who then beat Burnley the following week?

It`s certainly an extreme example of rotation, but McCarthy is the manager and like it or not he is the man who has to make the decisions. Had he played his ‘strongest` 11 at Old Trafford then maybe they would have picked up some injuries that would have affected the Burnley result. So I think he was justified in his decision to rest his players for a game they would be more capable of winning.

What have you made of Wolves this season? Good enough to stay up?

I think Wolves have had a decent enough season, its an old cliché but if you were offered 17th at the start of the season, you would have taken it. You are on course to finish there (at time of writing, you are 17th!!), there are some very good players at Wolves, I believe the three clubs below you in the league have weaker squads and Wolves seem the most stable of the four clubs (as Pompey are about to have points deducted, Hull have no manager and Burnley have the football league`s worst manager) with a pretty decent manager.

So who will go down?

Pompey have no chance, do they? I think Brian Laws is a poor manager so I reckon Burnley will join them and I think its between you and Hull for the final spot, all depends on who Hull get to replace Phil Brown I suppose, Ian Dowie and Mark Hughes are the two names being mentioned a lot as I write this, one would be a good appointment and would save them I reckon but the other would be no improvement on Brown (I will leave you to decide which one is which). So if I am being pressed, I am gonna go for Portsmouth, Burnley and Hull.

Will you make the top four and who will win the title?

Chelsea will win the title, Man Utd and Arsenal will definitely finish in the top four, who will finish 4th? I don`t think Spurs will last the distance and I am not sure we have it in us (as all our players are starting to look jaded). I think its between Man City and Liverpool and unfortunately the scousers have the experience of getting up there so I will go with them but its gonna be tight and I won`t be surprised to see any of those four qualify, maybe even Everton are in with a shout.

Do you think you can beat Chelsea and get to a second Wembley final in one season?

No. I think the players will give their all and it will be an enthralling match but they will be too strong for us, that said I would rather have them than Manchester United or Arsenal as our record is brilliant against Chelsea, I would have preferred Portsmouth, Fulham or Spurs though, obviously.

Seems to be a changing of the guard at the top of the league with Liverpool falling away and Arsenal going trophy-less for many years now. Yourselves, Manchester City and Tottenham seem to be the ones best placed for the fight to replace them. Over the next few seasons, who do you think will be the established ‘big four’.

I think it will be the same old four, I think Villa and Spurs will establish themselves as 5th and 6th and I think Man City will fall away as I can see it all going badly if they don`t make the top four this season, all those superstars are gonna be throwing their toys out of the pram and the board will probably sack Mancini and the next manager will fail and the board will just walk away. I think Abramovich`s Chelsea was a one off, every one seems to have a billionaire chairman/board now but I am not sure it guarantees success. So in answer to the question who do I think will be the big four over the next few years – Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. I hope I am proven wrong but I just cannot see it. I do think Spurs and Villa will be up there though.

OK, what is your prediction for the match?

The way Villa`s results are going at the moment, I think its going to be another 0-0 (queue the overly positive Official Villa siteraving about our wonderful defence keeping another clean sheet and neglecting the fact we have not scored AGAIN), however I hope for a mauling over you.

Thanks again to Young Jonah for taking the time to answer our questions!

To view our interview with Vital Villa – click here.

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