Alex McLeish has described Aston Villa’s remaining six matches as ‘cup finals’. Although the fixtures are not quite six-pointers, I predict the claret and blues will accumulate six points in total to secure their Premier League status after a season of struggle.
Sunday, April 15 Manchester United (a): Alex McLeish has never won a match against his managerial mentor Sir Alex Ferguson and the odds are against him changing that statistic this weekend. With Manchester City slipping up in the Premier League championship race, United are expected to ease towards their 20th top flight title and Villa are in for a tough challenge at Old Trafford.
Prediction: Villa defeat – 0 points.
Saturday, April 21 Sunderland (h): This fixture will be dominated by Martin O’Neill’s first return to Villa Park since he controversially left the club on the eve of last season, just five days before the big kick-off.
Villa are struggling to pick up victories at home with just one win in 10 in front of their own fans during the past five months. So given the tension surrounding this particular clash with the Black Cats, it could be destined for another stalemate.
Prediction: Draw – 1 point.
Tuesday, April 24 Bolton Wanderers (h): This match was originally scheduled for March 20, but was postponed after Fabrice Muamba’s cardiac arrest. With Stiliyan Petrov also now fighting his own battle for health, this is sure to be an emotional occasion, which Villa could edge providing they adopt a similar approach to their December win at the Reebok Stadium.
If Villa are able to triumph it would be their first and most probably only home and away ‘double’ of the entire season.
Prediction: Villa win – 4 points.