Two of the Premier Leagues relegation candidates meet on Saturday at the impressive Stadium of Light.
But who will win what will prove to be an important game for both sides? With Villa’s results recently taking a turn for the better, improved performances and desire on the pitch. Sunderland seem to be bumping by with solid and scrappy performances at home.
Poyet is coming under serious pressure from the Sunderland fans, with many echoing the thoughts Villa fans had about Paul Lambert, negative teams, poor tactics and strange substitutions all capped off with a seeming denial that there is anything wrong. This growing atmosphere at the Stadium of Light can only be an advantage to the away team as fans start booing and start chants aimed at their own club. It’s often taken lightly by fans, the affect they can have on a game, but you look at the atmosphere for those two West Brom games at home, the vibes from the fans clearly gave the players that little bit more. I genuinely believe the players feed off the fans as much as the fans off the players… both sets need to give.
In contrast to Sunderland, Villa go in to this game with a renewed confidence, a renewed vigour… I expect Sherwood to want to set a high tempo but to also draw Sunderland in and counter attack with pace, exposing their lack of legs at the back. Cattermole is a big miss for them having been booked, and thus suspended in their last game.
It’s often games like this Villa haven’t performed, when we’ve come up against teams where we see no real individual danger from players, but ignore the fact they will be well organised.
Its difficult to see how Sherwood will see this one, Benteke may or may not be back depending on what you’re reading. If he’s fit though he’ll play, No question about that. Gabby looks to be working hard again in games, will never be world class but when he’s focused and confident he can do anyone damage.
Senderos, Vlaar, Baker, Richardson seem no closer to regaining fitness so the defence may well pick it’s self.
The midfield is the really interesting one. Sinclair looks to be finding his feet, and if he finds the Swansea form from a few years back there will be more to come from him. N’Zogbia is finding some form too, his directness, his power and ability to score from nothing with be a big factor and again. if he can find the form that we all saw at Wigan, we have a player on our hands there too. Grealish is being given game time, but is obviously ruled out due to the wrong red card he received – have we appealed it? And then the is new crowd favourite, but seemingly not fighting enough for his place Gil, clearly possesses qualities beyond most of our squad and could still have a big say in games.
In the central areas Delph finally showed us some form since coming back from injury. Cleverly has continued to impress me since Lambert has gone. His graft and work rate is second to none in the team. Westwood is my only slight annoyance in the team at the minute, I can appreciate his hard work and the way he reads the game, but something has to give with his dead balls. I bang on about it I know, but they’re just so poor. In tight matches dead ball situations can win games.
Sherwood has a lot of options in that midfield area, now’s not the time to be resting people, we’re in a scrap, we need our best out there fighting to keep us up.
On another note I’m so pleased the Gary Gardner has starting showing some excellent form for Forest, it’s been a long time coming to get back to playing they way we know he can, lets hope this is just the beginning and there’s much more to come from the lad in a Villa shirt. Just for those who have seen his recent goals…