Paul Parker

Villa must now make amends

Paul Parker

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Match of the weekend: Chelsea v Aston Villa - FA Cup semi-final

Villa are trying to make the leap to the next level in their development, and Martin O'Neill will be desperate to land a trophy in his fourth season at the club.

They have motivation enough, but if they needed any more there is the recent memory of the 7-1 drubbing Chelsea gave them at Stamford Bridge.

They need to repay the faith shown in them from the manager and the fans, and as a top-four finish looks highly unlikely they can give everything and really have a go.

The issue for Chelsea is whether Carlo Ancelotti dares to leave Didier Drogba on the bench again after he did it last weekend against Manchester United. It worked last weekend, and the likes of Nicolas Anelka, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole really picked up their performance.

Upset of the weekend: Portsmouth v Tottenham - FA Cup semi-final

Clearly Portsmouth cannot match up to Spurs in the skill department, but there are a couple of things that could level the playing field - the first of which is the playing field itself.

The Wembey pitch is poor at the best of times, but this match will be less than 24 hours after the first semi-final and, seeing how the surface has cut up in the past, it could be a nightmare for a slick passing team like Tottenham.

A disjointed game suits the underdogs. Pompey could be relegated by the time they kick off if West Ham beat Sunderland, and the team will have to be broken up at the end of the season.

This is their last hurrah, and there is no reason to hold back - Spurs, on the other hand, still have an eye on the battle for fourth.

Player to watch: Dimitar Berbatov

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but if last week was important for Berbatov, then Manchester United's game at Blackburn is arguably even bigger. The Bulgarian is now playing for his future at Old Trafford.

The fact that Alex Ferguson risked a half-fit Wayne Rooney against Bayern Munich shows just how little faith he has in Berbatov, who will have been devastated to be consigned to the bench. However, this is no time to sulk, as United know another slip up could be terminal as they bid to stay in the title race.

Berbatov needs the players around him to step up and help. He naturally likes to drop deep, which means the likes of Nani and Antonio Valencia need to bomb on beyond him.

Blackburn always present a physical challenge, and the number nine must show he has the bottle to deal with the knocks and make a telling contribution.

Under pressure: Brian Laws

It would be wrong to say the honeymoon is over for Laws at Burnley because he never had one, but he could very possibly lose his job before the end of the season.

The performance at home to Manchester City was nothing short of disgraceful - no wonder fans started leaving when they went three goals down after seven minutes. It is shocking to think that at the start of the season Turf Moor was a fortress for Burnley.

Although the Clarets are only three points from safety, that feels like a million miles at the moment, but their game at Hull is a classic six-pointer and will go a long way to deciding the relegation battle.

If Hull emerge victorious, then Burnley can forget about survival and Laws can start looking for a new job.

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