AVFC.co.uk 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 a draw against Coventry and rumours of a high-profile transfer.
Paper: Sunday Mercury
Headline: Ron raps £4m flops as Villa hopes hit
Author: Barry Churchill
Manager Ron Atkinson pointed the finger of blame at £4 million strikers Dean Saunders and Dalian Atkinson after yesterday's goalless draw against Coventry City cost Villa the Premier League leadership.
Rivals Manchester United took advantage of Villa's slip to leapfrog to the summit with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday.
"We didn't score a goal and it was as simple as that," moaned Atkinson after the tense battle with the Sky Blues.
"Dalian had a couple of very good chances and if he had put them away it would have been a completely different story. But he didn't!
"We ran the game from start to finish. They defended well with their pride obviously at stake."
But a defiant Atkinson: "Everybody is saying Manchester United will be the first past the finishing post now - but there are plenty of points still up for grabs.
"I'm not worried about them, it's what we do that matters."
And, ironically, it is Coventry who could do Villa a big favour tomorrow when the title battle re-commences.
United visit Highfield Road while Atkinson's men go to Arsenal.
Villa skipper Kevin Richardson said: "We were not very happy with our performance and neither was the manager.
"He wasn't pleased with the guys up front. But I am sure they will come back to form and give us a new injection for the rest of the season."
Villa go to Highbury knowing that they desperately need to rediscover the goal touch with five games remaining.
Saunders, who has not scored for ten games said: "Obviously I am worried about it but if we still keep playing our normal game I am convinced everything will come right in the end."
Paper: Sunday Express
Headline: Kop now ready to let striker go
Author: Neil Silver
John Barnes is set to join Aston Villa at the end of the season.
Ron Atkinson has made it his priority to sign Barnes regardless of whether Villa win the Premier League.
Atkinson tried to take Barnes to Villa Park last month to link up with former Kop stars Steve Staunton and Ray Houghton, but Liverpool boss Graeme Souness refused to let him go because he felt Barnes would recapture his best form.
Both managers were also angry at suggestions Atkinson offered cash plus Earl Barrett and Garry Parker. Any deal is likely to be cash only.
Atkinson said: "I have discussed Barnes with Liverpool but there has been no mention of us offering any players as well."
Barnes' form for Liverpool has been indifferent this season and a fee of around £2 million could capture the man Atkinson sees as the missing link in his impressive team.
Barnes, 29, returned to the Liverpool side earlier this season following a long injury lay-off and was made captain.
Villa's title hopes took a jolt yesterday when they lost the Premier League leadership after a goalless draw at home to Coventry.
It let in Manchester United who went one point clear by beating Sheffield Wednesday 2-1, thanks to two goals by Steve Bruce in a last dramatic four minutes at Old Trafford.
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