O'Neill cautions Villa to stay alert in race for fourth place

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The Independent Football

Martin O'Neill believes the battle for fourth in the Premier League will not be decided until the end of the season, but admits he is "riled" at the suggestion his Aston Villa side's next two matches, against struggling Wolves today and Sunderland on Wednesday, are "home bankers".

O'Neill points to Chelsea and Liverpool both losing at Wigan as examples of the unpredictability of the Premier League. "Are the next two games home bankers?" he said. "Why would they be? It is a question that riles me in this Premier League. It riles me because you see Chelsea going to Wigan and getting beaten, you see Wigan beating Liverpool.

"First there is a derby against a Wolves side who had a terrific result at Burnley last weekend. Then we face Sunderland, who smashed four goals against Bolton, got their act together again and then drew with Manchester City. The games are tough, they don't work out like that, as bankers, they never have done. We will have to fight every inch of the way in both games to get anything out of them."

O'Neill feels this unpredictability will mean the race between Villa, Tottenham and Manchester City will ebb and flow during the next two months. He said: "There will be upsets, games you have lost, and come into the dressing room and find every result has gone against you, and vice-versa the following week. I think it will be like that from now until halfway through May."