Double Dutching

Alkmaar again, and this time it’s easier to get to.

Thursday night means football night and we’re at home to AZ Alkmaar in the next chapter of our European epic. We’ve given the rest of the group a start and now we’re making up for lost time.

No doubt Alkmaar’s ultras will be mobbed up on Hurst Street and march behind their little drummer boy to New Street. It’s a wild guess but they’ll probably be wearing black and make a lot of noise. Then they’ll get into the ground and make a lot more noise. Expect a bit of smoke as well because even the tightest security operations in football are unable to stop it being brought into any ground in England.

They’re second in the table, which is better than Ajax are doing, their manager’s mother used to be an English singer and their keeper’s dad played for Liverpool. There really isn’t a lot more to say about Alkmaar. We’ve got players coming back for a change, with Alex Moreno fit and Jhon Duran available provided he hasn’t got injured again or gone back home or fallen out with the rest of the squad or anything else that some Twitter account with seventeen followers swears is true. Whether he plays or not is up to Unai Emery, who seems to have finally managed to do what every Villa manger this century has failed at, being able to rotate for cup matches without embarrassment.

There are still tickets on sale, which is a wonder this season and has caused a bit of comment. To put it into perspective there’ll be more watching us play Alkmaar in the group stages of the Uefa Conference League than saw us against Barcelona in the Supercup. We won that one and we’ll be winning this one as well. That’ll be twice in two weeks – another one and we can keep them.