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Flashback 1992-93: Saunders and Shearer draw blank in striker duel

Albrighton: Lambert is a top boss and still an excellent player! Hendrie and Taylor in big challenge at open training session
Flashback 1992-93: Saunders and Shearer draw blank in striker duel continues its look at the week-by-week efforts of Ron Atkinson's exciting Villa side during the memorable 1992-93 season. Each week we will republish the newspaper articles from that exact time during the campaign. We continue with the stalemate against big-spending Blackburn.

Paper: Sunday Mercury
Headline: Parker's prize
Author: Unknown

Aston Villa's midfield ace Garry Parker was "chuffed to bits" after being called into the England squad for the World Cup qualifier with Norway at Wembley.

The 28-year-old midfielder was promoted from the stand-by list after Glasgow Rangers Trevor Steven pulled out with hamstring trouble.

Parker said: "Obviously I'm delighted to have got this chance. I've been happy with my form at Villa this season and hopefully I will get on at Wembley and show what I can do.

"But at the same time I feel some sympathy for Trevor."

England manager Graham Taylor said: "Garry is a good passer of the ball and has been playing really well."

Paper: Sunday Mercury
Headline: You can do it again Villa, says Allan Evans
Author: Ian Johnson

The odds on Aston Villa winning the League Championship have been slashed from 50-1 to 5-1.

The bookies have been running for cover since Welsh wizard 'Deano' breezed into Villa Park.

Thirteen points out of the last fifteen have propelled Villa into the top six and on course to emulate the Class of 81.

And one man who is backing them to do just that is Allan Evans, the lynchpin of Ron Saunders' title-winners.

"I think they can go all the way," said Evans. "They are looking unbeatable at the moment."

But does that mean Atkinson's aces would have beaten Saunders's stars.

"A hell of a game," drooled Evans at the mouth-watering thought.

"We would probably have won it on a penalty shoot-out after extra-time. It would have been that close - and exciting."

Paper: Sunday Mercury
Headline: The Doc's Column - It could be 4-4
Author: Tommy Docherty

Take your pocket calculator to Villa Park and prepare for a goal feast.

Aston Villa, the most impressive side on current form, against the early leaders of the Premier League, Blackburn Rovers. It's a tantalising prospect.

And just for once in my life, I'm going to sit on the fence and go for a draw.

But what I do promise is goals. Maybe 2-2, possibly 3-3 or even 4-4.

Now that may seem a laughable prediction especially when you consider the best defender in the world, bar none, will be on the pitch, namely Paul McGrath.

But Paul is going to have his work cut out against England striker Alan Shearer.

I've heard some pundits describing this game as a personal shoot-out between Shearer and Saunders. That is absolute nonsense.

Naturally both strikers will have a big part to play in the outcome of the game but there are more fascinating duels which will be fought out.

I've just mentioned the Shearer v McGrath confrontation but equally important for Villa will be how efficiently Shaun Teale takes care of Mike Newell.

The former Evertonian combines well with Shearer and is a real menace in the air.

Likewise at the other end, Kevin Moran and Colin Hendry are going to have their hands full against Villa's new strike force of Dean Saunders and Dalian Atkinson.

As most Villa fans know I was a big critic of Atkinson. I didn't like his attitude but since the arrival of Saunders from Anfield, he looks different class.

He's a yard quicker to the ball but his confidence has returned and he's no longer scared to take defenders on.

The middle of the park promises another intriguing battle.

Garry Parker is buzzing for Villa and along with Ray Houghton and the tenacious Kevin Richardson, they form a formidable trio.

But Blackburn are no mugs in that department either.

Gordon Cowans is the flair player while Tim Sherwood and Mark Atkins are two very honest performers who give 110 per cent.

If Blackburn do have a weakness it is in goal.

I've got no confidence in Bobby Mimms and I'm surprised if his defence have either.

On his day he can be brilliant, a real match-winner, but for every good game he seems to have a couple of stinkers.

He is particularly weak on crosses and that's where I expect Villa to capitalise.

Paper: Birmingham Post
Headline: Villa title test as mega million pair shape up
Author: Michael Ward

A crowd of 35,000 will watch Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers measure their Premier League title aspirations stride by stride in a game bringing together two teams rebuilt at a combined cost of nearly £30m.

The live cameras of Sky TV will be at Villa Park to witness a duel of two strikers jointly worth £5.9m and it is in keeping with the loftiest goals of Villa manager Ron Atkinson that he tried to sign Alan Shearer before settling happily for Dean Saunders.

The Premier Division's dream teams have been setting the highest standards of attacking football and it is entirely benefitting their box office appeal that the Red Devils parachute team have been hired as part of a glittering display of side-attractions before and after the kick-off.

"This is the kind of game I came to Villa Park for in the first place," said Atkinson on the eve of the game.

The match means a return to Villa Park for their long-serving former midfield player Gordon Cowans, who won League Championship and European Cup medals in 1981 and 1982.

"People are already starting to compare Ron Atkinson's team with the Villa side of a decade ago and there's no doubt he has a lot of quality players," Cowans acknowledged.

"They are definitely championship material but then so are Blackburn Rovers.

"Both teams like to pass the ball around and play open football. It should be a cracking game and you should see a few goals."

Paper: Daily Telegraph
Headline: Villa wait for fitness tests
Author: Unknown

Aston Villa will give three key players fitness tests before the game against Blackburn Rovers.

Manager Ron Atkinson had hoped the 48-hour delay for the televised match would ensure that Paul McGrath [hamstring], Steve Staunton [knee] and Stephen Froggatt [ankle] were able to play but they were still doubtful last night.

Paper: Today
Headline: Top Drawer
Author: David Harrison

Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers were joined in a goalless deadlock, unable to confirm their respective reputations as the country's most productive teams.

The two hottest strikers of the moment, Alan Shearer and Dean Saunders, both drew blanks on a night when goalkeepers Nigel Spink and Bobby Mimms stepped into the spotlight.

But their failure to find the net failed to detract from a highly-entertaining encounter which leaves Rovers a point behind leaders Norwich and moves Villa into fourth.

The game's attacking moments came in small helpings rather than the anticipated feast of entertainment but that was because both defences were on full alert.

Paper: Birmingham Post
Headline: Little reward for big spenders
Author: Andy Colquhoun

Two teams that contested the first Football League title 103 years ago served notice that they have every intention of being in the scrap for the first FA Premier version come May.

It was not quite the expected feast but it was stirring enough and probably the best summary is that these two sides cancelled each other out.

After all £10m minus £10m equals not very much.

Blackburn Rovers showed the new breed can match their fine pedigree while Villa, roared on by 30,000 in the second half, showed off Ron Atkinson's brand of total football.

That it ended goalless was in large part due to some excellent defending and some equally excellent goalkeeping.

Aston Villa: Spink, Barrett, Staunton, Teale, McGrath, Richardson, Houghton, Parker, Saunders, Atkinson, Froggatt [Small, 45]. Subs: Yorke, Bosnich.

Blackburn Rovers: Mimms, May, Wright, Sherwood, Hendry, Moran, Ripley, Cowans, Shearer, Newell, Wilcox. Subs: Marker, Collier, Wegerle.

AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 15th October 2012
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