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I'm reliably informed by my mate Rob McCaffrey (ex Sky Sports but now presents the Premier League coverage on Star Sports throughout the Middle East from Dubai) that the Villa (and Pompey) boys will be met with beautiful sunshine on their break in the United Arab Emirates.

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We have a number of weekend football enhanced specials this weekend;

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  • Big 4 all to win? 5/1
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Saturday home bankers?

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  • Arsenal, Chelsea, Celtic & rangers all to win 5/2
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It goes without saying that it hasn't been the best of weeks for Villa and ahead of a very difficult trip to Moscow next week they face a Chelsea side who, we are led to believe, are united behind their new manager Guus Hiddink.

England remain 7/1 shots for the 2010 World Cup but how they can be the same price as Spain is beyond me after events in Seville midweek. Brazil head the market at 9/2 from Argentina at 5s but the Spanish look to have improved again since their victory in last summer’s European Championships and 7/1 looks too big to me.

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Just when you think the FA Cup is dead in the water a hitherto unknown nineteen-year-old goes and scores the winning goal in the last minute of extra-time against a Liverpool side shorn of their talisman, their sulky Spanish striker but at least they still have their David Brent-lookalike manager at the helm. But for how long?

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The sale of Emile Heskey and Wilson Palacios and the injury to Antonio Valencia may have weakened the Wigan side that travel to Villa Park this afternoon but the Latics showed against Liverpool midweek that they remain the most resilient of sides and Steve Bruce would, alongside Martin O'Neill and David Moyes, be my choice for potential Manager Of The Year.

Local boy made good veteran singer Tony Christie visited the Doncaster Rovers training ground bedecked in Red & White this week for BBC's Football Focus which can be seen this afternoon.

Happy New Year. Hope you had a good one and that your resolutions are going better than mine. Unfortunately I fell from grace (don't know what she was doing there) and watched two episodes of The Gilmore Girls on Wednesday which I know is not good for my blood pressure, but there are days when I insist one is just not enough. I have said it before but I have vowed to seek medical help/counselling.

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