No jokes. No cleverness. No witty attempts at cute. Be the 12th Man.
Sorry this is so delayed, y'all. To be honest, I didn't want to write this. It's opening night for the Seattle Mariners. I'm still trying to finish the brief I've been complaining about all week. I just wanted to hide from the pain that is Aston Villa. Although I'm not as bad as Aaron, who's ran off to San Francisco, or Robert, who's going to some music nerd conference tomorrow. I'll wake up and I'll face it. And I'll be the twelfth man. Will you?
Let's start with who's available -- for once, almost everyone! Ciaran Clark is still suspended (I must have blocked out why he's never coming back) and Kyle Walker likely won't start, as he's still dealing with the hip injury he picked up while training with England (I will not have another rant about the pointlessness of international friendlies, I will not, I will not). But fear not, because Luke Young is supposedly back, and the club is making it clear that no one has a grudge against Richard Dunne and James Collins, who are both healthy.
So that leaves us with the head-scratching conundrum of who plays in front of the back line. It seems likely that Jean Makoun and Nigel Reo-Coker will play in the center. Darren Bent up front, with Ashley Young behind. Stewart Downing is a certainty. But will it be Gabriel Agbonlahor on the left and Downing on the right, or will Downing play on the left and Marc Albrighton start on the right? At this point, it's not certain it matters. Personally, I'd love to see this team play a 4-3-3 like England played, but something tells me there's not going to be any tweaks this week. It's all about the desperate need to get points. Ergo, get the ball in the *&^$ net.
As for Everton, well, they've got the opposite problem, what with being down to one fit striker and all. Mikel Arteta and Marouane Fellaini are never coming back. Today saw the news that Louis Saha is likely out for the season. Jack Rodwell, Tim Cahill and Seamus Coleman are all doubts. I acted like a grown up and didn't curse Tim Howard during the international break, nor Leighton Baines or Phil Jagielka, so the Toffees defense could have suffered more. Then again, since it seems certain Villa will never, ever score again, they could field an entire attacking team and it would not matter.
Goals or not, happy or not, filled with dread of the r-word or not -- on Saturday we have but one mission, whether attending the match or sitting 7500km from it. Eight games. Two colors. Claret and blue. Villa til we die.