Friday, April 17th, 2015

Footballing Rivalry For Skipper And Moeen As Fa Cup Semi-Final Looms

Footballing Rivalry For Skipper And Moeen As Fa Cup Semi-Final Looms

Daryl Mitchell is backing his beloved Aston Villa to reach the FA Cup final – even though cricket commitments at Hove on Sunday mean he will not be present at Wembley.

The Worcestershire skipper will be keeping an eye on the score in the Villa-Liverpool clash in between sessions of the LV = County Championship encounter with Sussex.

Mitchell used to be a member of the Villa School Of Excellence as a youngster and is a former season ticket-holder.

He said: "It is a little bit disappointing that the games clash to be honest but hopefully we can get over the line.

"I've already looked at the date of the final and we are at Hampshire so I won't be able to go to that either if we get there.

"But I'm sure Tim (Sherwood) will get the boys rallied and get a win.

"Every Saturday in the lunch break, in the tea break, you always try and find out what the scores are.

"There are a vast array of Midlands supported team in our dressing room so there is a bit of banter up there as well.

"Fortunately Villa are the biggest club so I normally come out on top!"

So where does the love of Villa come from? Mitchel said: "I actually played for the School of Excellence when I was a kid. Gary Shaw was my manager when I was 12 and Peter Withe was head of the School of Excellence in those days.

"I got a few free tickets in those days in the Brian Little era and the love of Villa just grew from there really.

"I went to the 1996 League Cup final, which was fantastic. Savo Milosevic banged one in from 30 yards against Leeds and we won 3-0. That was a good memory.

"I had season tickets for a couple of years in the Martin O'Neill era as well so I enjoy my football, enjoy my away days in particular and always follow the Villa with a passion."

And what is Daryl's prediction for Sunday? He said: "It's always about on the day and Villa have got the players capable of beating anyone so I'm backing the boys to come out on top.

"It has been tough season but the cloud has lifted, particularly with a couple of wins over West Brom, very enjoyable.

"Us Villa fans are looking forward to the end of the season now certainly a lot more than 10-12 weeks ago.

"It is exciting times, a cup final and hopefully avoid relegation."

In the opposite corner on Sunday will be Moeen Ali but the Liverpool fan will have to watch events from afar after his England call-up for the remainder of the West Indies tour.

He is promising to keep in touch with Mitchell over the outcome of Sunday's game and is predicting a Reds victory.

Moeen said: "I'll be sending Mitch some messages. I'll send him a couple of messages when we've won after the game!

"We have a lot of banter in the dressing room. Villa is a bit different because I go there quite a lot as they are not far from me.

"I back the Villa boys until they get a bit cocky and as soon as they do I put them in their place!

"We will win on Sunday, 3-2. It will be a tight game because Villa are one of those teams we don't really play well against but I'm backing the boys to come strong.

"I'll be keeping an eye from the West Indies, I always keep an eye on the Liverpool results.

"Hopefully we smash Villa and get into the final. I really want to play Arsenal in the final because they beat us badly the other day in the Premier League."