The festive season is upon us, and we’d like our first present in the form of three points against Sheffield United. Doesn’t seem like much to ask, given that their recent run of form is worse than ours. And if we’d like to stay in the playoff places a week Monday, a win is rather obviously what we need.

Villa have dropped to sixth, and the Blades to seventh, while two of our recent opponents, Leeds and Derby, have climbed above us. As I hastily write this, Derby are putting it to Millwall, and Leeds are up against Hull. Bristol are trailing QPR. So, as always, winning will only help us keep pace. We’re now 15 points behind Wolves, and 11 behind Cardiff. Don’t see that gap getting made up, to be honest. Accordingly, I’ve downgraded my optimism regarding second place.

And now, of course, the traditional glut of fixtures follows, with Villa traveling to Brentford on Boxing Day, Middlesbrough on the 30th, and Bristol on New Year’s Day.

Obviously, the big questions will be where do the goals come from, are we deep enough to cope, and will John Terry be managing Villa come another away day in Nottingham on the 13th. I’ve probably heard worse ideas.

On the goals front, you’d think Scott Hogan has to start. Which, of course, doesn’t seem to equal goals. Apparently that’s down to Villa being such a big club, and Hogan struggling with the pressure.

Maybe we go with Davis up front again on his own, but, depending on how sick he was, that might be a bit of an ask for an hour or more. So, until we potentially conjure up some January magic and get in another striker on loan, we need Hogan to be less daunted than a teenager and start paying back some of the money we laid out for him.

Elsewhere, Lansbury’s out, as is Josh Onomah. Andre Green has returned to training, which gives some ray of hope if he plays left on his eventual return and Adomah goes back to the right. Snodgrass hasn’t really produced the goods, and there’s no way Green’s return should see Albert take a back seat to anyone in the side right now.

Green, Grealish, Davis, and Adomah…you’d like to think there’d be a goal or two somewhere in there. And I have to ask, is Callum O’Hare still with us? I’d like to think he gets a go, perhaps it will be against Brentford depending on Snodgrass’s performance today. Russian Hepburn-Murphy is working his way back from injury, but given Bruce’s comments during the week, I doubt we’ll be seeing him anytime soon, no matter how few we score.

Anyway, the team sheet will be out soon enough. I don’t know what to expect, other than some version of 4-4-1-1. Seems like the only variable is whether Grealish is playing behind Davis or Hogan.

As usual, Bruce has been talking up the exciting parity in the league while Wolves run away with it, and big-spending Villa are clinging to the fringes of the playoffs. Pretty much all we need to know.

On a happier note…Let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays, and that everyone enjoys their time with family and friends. Which is, after all, what really counts. I’ll certainly be relishing the time with both my kids home from school, a rarity these days. There’ll be a nice big dinner, which is always fun once my better half has done all the hard work and put on another wonderful meal. I’ll be mopping and vacuuming and trying to make myself useful in some capacity.

I’ll also be keeping my fingers crossed that we’re visited with a Christmas miracle—also known as a formula to carry us through and keep us in the hunt.

Over to you.

Comments 66

  1. Merry Xmas, John.
    I hope you don’t pull a hammy mopping the floor or tweak a calf while vacuuming.
    Like yourself, I have very little confidence in Villa gaining automatic promotion. There’s still a good chance for the playoffs. At least Villa won’t have to play Wolves in the playoffs.
    I watched SB’s presser. Loved the way he dodged the O’Hare question.
    As for today, I expect Villa to win.

  2. delaet ,elphik are natural centre halfs ,jedi last week was shown up time after time,seen a clip of our defence it was like we used to say in building game like a dog p*ss in snow

  3. Mark King – have you ever been to a Villa game? Have you ever put yourself on the line at game? You only live about 50 miles away so how come this great Villa fan never attends a game? Or are you just a keyboard warrior/whinger as other blogs have discovered about you, Mr Link man?

    And James Gill – if you are constantly sick of Bruce and Villa then why not stick to moaning at your Irish teams that you ‘support’

    Sorry but this blog just kills me with its non-stop moaning. Merry Christmas Aston Villa Grinches Life ….

    Oldvilla

  4. old villa
    wishing you a merry xmas and your constant moaning , not many on here praising bruce yet you seem fit to come on and act like school yard bully week after week and leave the irish part out of it,no need to be racist on here

  5. James G – never have been racist and never will be. Isnt it true you follow the Irish teams where you are? Whats racist about that? Look onyour FB page and you’ll see that you support Irish teams before the Villa … No?
    Mark K – so why don’t you go now? Sorry about your dad, I know how that feels, but I carried on going to the Villa out of respect for my dad.
    Next time i’m over in the uk I’ll let you know and I’ll either look you up in Oxford or see you at a game. I’ll give you directions. Then call me a top grade knob keyboard warrior …..
    old villa

  6. Hahahahaha JG – you are a wag! I say you support Irish Teams and that makes me racist?!! Sort your head out pal, it needs a good shake mate, find a brain cell or two maybe ….
    Totally non-racist oldvilla

  7. C’mon, lads…

    OV, if you’re positive, that’s a-okay. Just be positive. As I always say, people can have any opinion. If there’s more optimism out there than what you see here, then folks can come on and outweigh the negative, if they like.

  8. And if anyone cares to write a leader with a different point of view, please do and send my way. Be happy to put it up.

    Me, I just call it like I see it. If someone sees it differently, then by all means, write it up.

  9. ian
    he should went last january after bad run,should went at end of season after failing and then at first international break this season ,how many lifes has he got,60 odd games and we havent performed in any one for 90mins

  10. You can feel the disappointment. Even OV seems wound up by the result.

    We’ve touched new levels today. After a brilliant start we decided to bin 2 points. Sheff U’s game plan was simple. Play Donaldson up front who is quick, and just play balls between our defenders for him to feast on. I’ve said it before, our pace at the back is alarming and all opposition managers know it. If SB doesn’t make a raft of changes for Brentford we’ll have no chance of a result. Give several of our kids a run please.

    Not going to lay into Jedi, he’s not a CB. But Snoddy and Whelan were poor. Hogan does not receive the support he thrives on as he needs quick wingers who can play him in along the ground. I’m feeling well deflated.

  11. plug
    racist old villa was out of order today, as per usual with his posts its usually just name calling
    no one is happy with way villas going but no call to get personal

  12. I hope you’re all enjoying the festive season. Don’t let a poor result put a dampener on your Christmas.
    Obvious mistakes aside, there was too much lateral movement. Snoddy was on his wrong side. On a positive, I thought Jack Grealish looked like he’s growing into his role confidently and defended. I thought Chester fought to the end. Also, Delaet looked the part when he came on. Give the Belgian a start.
    I don’t think Jedi and Whelan should play on the same team, too slow and similar.

  13. James Gill – please read what I wrote before and realise that I am not racist but its just that you are trying to stir things up. I said “I say you support Irish Teams and that makes me racist?!! Sort your head out pal, it needs a good shake mate, find a brain cell or two maybe ….
    Totally non-racist oldvilla”

    Now how is that racist? Maybe the English Premier League is racist as well. And the Scottish Premier.
    Just think before you write your rubbish eh?
    Yours, like trying to teach kids oldvilla

  14. Well I said I thought we would get 14 points from this stretch of games leading up to xmas and so far we have 12 so unless we beat or draw with Brentford and Borough away we won’t make that, we have 4 more than last season at this point.

    Iana I thought jack played well considering he was the only player to consistently take people on or make a telling pass, the lad needs some help out there though, one moment where wheelan turned around and passed the ball back 40 yards from about thirty yards from their goal says it all. in the end he was having to come and fetch it off the full backs.

  15. Hello All,I am of the opinion that Bruce should NOT receive another £ in Jan,in terms of buys or loans.Enough is enough.
    Happy Xmas and all the best in 2018.COYVB.

  16. OV- missed this bit “Or are you just a keyboard warrior/whinger as other blogs have discovered about you, Mr Link man?”

    what exactly do you mean by that then ? I post on the villa blog sometimes thats it and still do and get on fine, there are some really old fans on there and I have posted under my real name on here since I started blogging, very unkeyboard warrior wouldn’t you say and I have told people where I live and I am not going anywhere soon so feel free, so how about putting up your real name and Locality? I can understand why you don’t there are to many idiots about.

  17. racist old villa
    prefer if you didnt comment to me as all you do is act like school yard bully hiding behind a name
    you come on and slag me off constanly ,then have nerve to bring up where i now live so in my book and most decent people that is a form of racism which you keep mentioning
    so no more comments
    racist old villa

  18. Morning James G,

    Good to see you are still talking rubbish – since when has mentioning where you live been racist hahaha
    And Plug, Trinity, Brasil, ST75, etc etc – please don’t hide behind a name as James doesn’t like it.

    Someone said to me earlier ” so you live in Switzerland now then?” …… I said “you can’t say that as I’ve heard its racist” ………………… there’s a lot of it about James, thanks for letting me know about not being able to mention where anyone lives.

    Yours in Christmas merriment, oldvilla

  19. Getting back to the football guys…..

    Using SB’s stated promition calculation of averaging 2 points per game which is also Dr Tony Xia’s rule of thumb calc to monitor progress. We are currently 8 points behind the curve or -8. To make that up we need to win 18 of the remaining 23 games with 5 losses and no draws. It ain’t going to happen is it?

    So the best on offer this season is a playoff place. That’s not good given our record against the top 6 teams.

    The positive site members will say quite rightly than I’m being negative. All I can say is that I can’t for 1 minute see the current state of affairs at VP being acceptable around Manchester or Merseyside so why should it be here in Brum?

  20. Indeed, Plug, back to football…

    It is tough sledding ahead. The results against the teams around us tell the story. The number of draws is what distinguishes us from the sides above us. We haven’t lost a lot, but we’re not winning enough.

    The expectations are big, granted, but Wolves are showing you can put together a side rather quickly. Maybe they’ve gotten lucky, and we’ve had some bad luck (Kodjia, etc.) to be sure.

    On balance, maybe the points haul is about in line with what we could reasonably expect, but the performances still don’t feel like we’re maximizing what we have.

  21. Plug- I’d love to have something positive to talk about mate but barring a miraculous transfer window I can’t see us doing much. How the hell has delaet been kept out of the side? he looks class every time he plays for me.

  22. JC- yep something is missing and I’m not sure a striker would fix it unless he can make his own chances. Bruces jan window of last season is looking more and more strange as we have injuries and still he won’t play most of them.

    Many teams including leeds cardiff wolves Brentford have rebuilt their sides the list is long yet none of them play the turgid style of football we do

    https://www.transfermarkt.com/championship/transfers/wettbewerb/GB2/saison_id/2017

  23. My goodness children what is going on here????

    I go to Bristol for a couple of days, and Lee Jonson’s dad says that the City have two hopes of beating United in the cup, and then Bob comes up trumps (Bob Hope, as apposed to no hope).

    I then go to Vila Park (being a fully qualified Holte Ender of over 50 years standing) and like some sort of magic watch my Villa team go 2-0 up for the first time in xxx years….I know JL would tell me, as he is great at these sort of facts. Then, of course it is not really my team, as I did not pick it, Steve Bruce did…..and guess what a nice lad being an ex-blue nose decided to liven up the party and score a couple of gifted goals , well it is Xmas…

    Sometime around then, the football seems to fall away, and we are back to the usual failings, but there is hope on comes Hogan AND Gabby…we must be going to attack and score….

    Sorry, can only report that in the end Gabby was injured and will probably be out for a few more months, and Villa end up being grateful for another SINGLE POINT.

    This is not good enough, and as Plug says, would not be acceptable anywhere else in the modern world, except Birmingham. Perhaps the problem is that there is nothing to compete against with Small Heath Alliance, Tesco bags, Coventry and Walsall. I will not mention the born again Wolves at this point. I am with all those that think Bruce is not good enough, and should be replaced by Terry in the interim. we have a right to our opinion, and do not need to insulted.

    For all my beliefs, I will still be glued to the tv on Boxing Day, and cheering the team on, and then I shall be driving up to Villa Park on New Year’s Day to cheer them on again, because that is what TRUE VILLA fans do…. Support the team….they wear the colours, as do we…Bruce I have never been over happy with, but when he does okay, then I am one of the first to say well done.That does not make me a fan of his. I would have taken Rowett or Wagner, every time over him, at the time he was appointed.

    Merry Xmas too all, and good to see you B6 to Brasil and MK, JC, JG and you Old Villa just keep writing, and any real stuff can be sorted out in the new year on the Serpentine…..!!!!!

    Oh! forgot… no Serpentine now…have to be in the open air at the Aston Tavern… I’ll let Paul & Michelle know when we fix a date…..LOL…!!!

  24. Hi everyone,
    Missed the match as was travelling, seems I didn’t miss so much?
    Even missed an OV rant gone personal.
    Well happy Christmas everyone, & seems we need a win.
    De Laet is quicker than Jedi, & actually is a centre half as well as a full back by trade, I don’t understand why he doesn’t play, unless it’s that Bruce didn’t buy him.
    Mark – I wouldn’t give him a bum’s rush for the January transfer market, as it would only get more rigid.
    By the time he susses it out it will be too late IMO.

    OV – where’s the positive spin on yet another draw, except that it’s not a loss, as it’s not going to get us promoted, & the automatic promotion seems all but gone except for a miracle, which is worrying for possible playoffs the way SB seems to have been sussed out?

  25. Like everyone, I’m wondering what DeLaet does to get a game. Big, fast, seems assured, good on the ball. I can see Bruce giving Jedi another go after last week, but after yesterday, I think he has to make a change. If DeLaet’s mobile enough to play FB, he’s got the turning ability to play CB, and enough recovery speed to make up for not having Terry’s positional awareness.

  26. IanG…

    Also having trouble putting a good spin on squandering a 2-0 lead. If I were to try, it would be to say that we’re lucky not to have lost 3-2.

    In the grand scheme of life does it matter? No, of course not.

    In the context of a virtual all-or-nothing promotion push? It does matter. Those are games you absolutely have to win.

  27. Anyway…hope everyone has a lovely Christmas eve and day.

    I’ll probably not put a match review up, as it’ll be Christmas-Day reading for most, and you’re all far too deserving of more than a lump of coal.

  28. JC- I know we don’t have great history with 3 CB’s but in the circumstances Chester, jedinak, Delaet
    could work if indeed he persists with Jedinak at CB, I’m questioning myself as I right this because its all so sticking plaster to cover up deficiencies.

  29. Well, it’s 20:42 here. Merry Xmas again to all you folk down North and elsewhere else. I can imagine IanG eating some Christmas pudding and OV with a face full of muffin and whipped cream. I think Mark and PP might sip on an ale, just 1-6. JC might have a turkey or ham lunch with family. JG, Plug and Archie would have lamb. Xmas would still be huge in Brasil, wouldn’t it?
    I think it’s Clive’s birthday, today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Clive. Don’t get drunk and go swimming where crocs lurk.

  30. Merry Christmas to all our readers…..

    Still in my new Villa jim jams….

    Have not started on drinks 1-6 yet, but plenty of time…..

    Will Santa bring us a late Xmas pressie tomorrow, let’s hope so…. either a win or JT to sort out this farce….!!!!

  31. I’m getting over drinks 1-6 by now but I think my brother John may not be, when I left his place we had just been re-enacting some UFC fight in his front room the loon, god help his mrs hope she got some kip 🙂

    Loads of footy on today and going up to Leicester for more family fun so hopefully will get to see the game later, I am hoping for not embarrassing ourselves at this point as they should of beaten us at VP and are doing ok having lost 1 more than us and drawn 2 more, looking like a draw again unless Bruce has a moment.

    I expect Hogan will start as Bruce has been making noises about it being his time but also about trying something different and not playing players that haven’t trained much to avoid injury?

    have a good day all

  32. Oh one other thing is Jedinak playing CB because Bruce won’t drop Wheelan but wants to play Jedinak? On this seasons picking of players I think that may have legs. I would drop Wheelan and Snodgrass to the bench play Jedinak where he is best and put Hogan up with Davis and give grealish and Adomah freedom to switch wings with hourihane playing as a box to box. Elphick in delaet at RB.

  33. Middleboro just changed managers and won 2 on Monk’s agenda in spite of his sacking. They weren’t a bad team. Saving face for Simon Gibson forced his hand. It’s in Xia’s hands now. Wharton to do, what to do?

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