Barclays Premier League
By Paul Brown
James Collins admits the 2010 Carling Cup final defeat to Manchester United still hurts as Villa get set for their latest encounter with the Red Devils.
Collins accepts that the Wembley frustration was two seasons ago but he says that game is always in the back of his mind whenever he comes up against Sir Alex Ferguson's men.
Villa, of course, went a goal up early courtesy of James Milner's expertly-taken penalty but the foul that led to the spot-kick should have seen Nemanja Vidic dismissed after he bundled over Gabby Agbonlahor as the final man.
Manchester United came back with goals from Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney to take the trophy.
Collins admits that still rankles and he'd love to see them off tonight and avenge that showpiece loss, although he knows Villa will have to be on top form against "one of the best attacking teams in the business."
He said: "Yes, we probably do owe them one.
"It's obviously a long time ago but it still hurts, especially the decision that went against us on the day and the way we played.
"We were great on the day so to come away with nothing but a runners-up medal was disappointing.
"It's always in the back of your mind whenever you play against them.
"It's going to be a tough evening this time around. I've played against Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez quite a few times now. All of their players are top class.
"Hernandez is a goalscorer. He's got that movement which gets him in the positions to score goals so we're going to have to be on our toes.
"It is going to be one of the toughest attacking teams we'll play against so we have to be on top form."
Collins, of course, is now well-known as an established goal stopper - but he recalls the days when he was a goal getter.
The powerful centre-half used to be a centre-forward at Cardiff City and remembers those days fondly.
He says he'd love to get back on the goal trail at Villa although he gets more of a kick now out of preventing chances.
He added: "Years ago at Cardiff I used to play centre-forward and I think I got eight or nine goals playing for the reserves one season. I made my full first-team debut as a striker and signed professional forms as one.
"It was Lennie Lawrence who turned me into a centre-back. Alan Cork was the manager at the time with Bobby Gould and I played up front then but when Lennie came in he said 'no chance, you get back to heading it away from goal!' That is where it all changed.
"It was a long time ago and I'm not sure I would know what to do if I went up there now to be honest. I don't really fancy myself as much of a centre-forward now.
"It gives me a little edge having played there but to be honest it was such a long time ago that I can't really remember those days.
"Do I miss the thrill of playing there and scoring goals? No, not really. I get more of a thrill by stopping them now to be honest.
"Being a defender making a good block or a good tackle is as good a feeling as scoring a goal for me.
"However, I would like to get five or six every year from the back. But I haven't got anywhere near getting one so far."
The EA SPORTS special FIFA 12 gaming hub will be at Villa Park on Saturday. The giant game arena named 'The Dugout' will be located at Trinity Road so fans can test out the new game. 'The Dugout' is an award-winning, state-of-the-art exhibition trailer from EA SPORTS - our official football action game partner - that allows visitors to trial the latest video games on High-Definition (HD) technology. Test out your skills and then pop along to the big match at 5.30pm as Villa face Manchester United.
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