As luck would have it, Villa’s aim for eight straight features us away to the Cottagers and potentially missing two of our brightest lights. I don’t know why, but when things are going well, it sort of always seems that someone important gets injured.

Which isn’t to say that Villa can’t win without Jack Grealish and/or Albert Adomah. It will just be harder. Given that it’s an away game against a promotion rival in good form, it might well be the case that even with a healthy squad Steve Bruce might’ve seen this match primarily as one not to lose.

Which isn’t to say we’d have been any different in terms of attacking potential. Just that we might have been a tad more cautious, soaking up Fulham’s enthusiasm, and then trying to get to grips with things after taking the crowd out and gaining some traction.

When I look at us with two key players out and sitting one above Derby and Cardiff and seven above Fulham, there’s no reason not to just keep Fulham at bay and see what happens with the other two.

If they both win, we’re in fourth and two points down, most likely, with plenty of games to go.

Moving along. I should know, but don’t, what Andre Green’s real status is. He’s obviously first in line to replace Adomah if he’s fit enough, and has put in minutes with the U23s.

If he’s not ready to go at this level, I can see Bruce putting Bjarnason in his place. Just came to me. But maybe Green does have 60-70mins in him. Or Onomah goes wide left. Who knows. Bruce is cagey, and even if Green is physically okay to play a while, I just don’t know if today is the day to have him start again. Then again, they’re all important games from here on in.

With Grealish it gets a bit harder. We don’t have anyone else like him, and without him, the way we play can only change.

So, to sum up: A) Everyone’s fine. B) We see some changes. C) Maybe we lose, maybe we win, maybe we draw and just take home a point.

I don’t really have any predictions as far as what Bruce will do. For me, the questions are obvious: Who is going to be the extra motor in midfield if Hourihane fills Jack’s spot, Jedi comes in, and Bjarnason goes out wide if Green isn’t ready? And does Grabban have any role to play other than filling in for Hogan? (Short answer: No.)

Me, I don’t see Bruce putting in Davis or any other striker along with Hogan to start away against Fulham. He’s not going to play 4-4-2 on the road with stars out. (So obviously he will.)

Kidding aside, my swipe at it (on paper) would be:

Hogan
Green Hourihane Snodgrass
Bjarnason Onomah
Hutton Terry Chester Elmohamady

Like I said, I suppose Onomah could be out left, with Bjarnason more central alongside Mile Jedinak. Likely would be safer, but Hutton would probably have his hands full with Onomah in front of him. If Bjarnason is wide left, then I’m thinking Bruce is going to have Birkir play defense first.

At any rate, we’ll soon find out. If we lose, it will be a shame, because I actually don’t think we’d lose with Adomah and Grealish in the mix. As it stands now before kickoff, I’d take a draw, even if it means we drop. The point could be huge in the long run, and it fits Bruce’s thinking. Naturally the win would be better, and we could conjure it up. But tomorrow feels more like a damage-control exercise to me.

Over to you.

Comments 40

  1. Thanks JC,
    Yes it should be interesting, as it’s permoitations permoitations endlessly until we know definitely about Jack.
    If we win this even Andrew may have a positive bone appear, & I will start to believe that it is more than possible to achieve the top 2.

  2. Well, I’m just getting ready to drive down to London…

    Except it’s not Villa but my granddaughter’s birthday do we’re going to! 🙂

    I’d be quite happy for a draw today … a winning run can’t keep on forever and Fulham clearly have some ability. And I suspect that whichever team we put out would obtain at least a draw.

    So, here’s to keep on smiling and looking forward to the next 14 steps!

  3. Thanks for the leader, JC.
    Yes, with Grealish and Adomah out we certainly lose scoring chances. I’m hoping others can step up and seriously see this as a chance to shine. I think it’s a 50-50 match. Good luck to Villa and the fans making the trip to London.
    1-1

  4. Let’s make it 8 in a row

    Really tough game. We are never good at Fulham. If Grealish and Adomah our our we are f**ked as Bruce will play Bikir on the wing

  5. Disappointed that Jack and Albert may not make it, but it does not have to be the end of the world. Onomah has played out wide, and could replace Adomah, and O’Hare has enough about him to replace Grealish for 60/70 minutes, and then bring on Jedinak or Tuanzebe.

    My team would be:

    Johnstone, El Mohamady Chester Terry Hutton, Bjarnason, Snodgrass Hourihane O’Hare Onomah, Hogan subs: Bunn, Davis, Tuanzebe, Jedinak, Whelan, Green

    Bruce is more likely to play it safe, and shore the team up with Jedinak and Whelan.

  6. I’m not sure Whelan is the right selection Paul, I think your first pick above is better with Whelan on the bench.

    As an aside I have just watched Carlos Carvalhal interview on BT Sport – his enthusiasm for the game reminds me of Dennis Mortimer. He came to talk to a group of supporters in Cheslyn Hay and after the quick Q&A, photos and signing he, unlike the Withes and Shaws, did not shoot off but stayed chatting about the game until the steward at the club asked if we could leave so he could shut up.

    Those were the days and I hope they return. I am constantly aware that I saw the Villa win the FA Cup when I was 15 years old and now, at 76 I would like another memory. It’s not the years in your life but the life in your years.

  7. I’ve stayed away from ohare pp as it’s a leap to far for Bruce imo especially in a big match but you never know others may influence his decision. I’m thinking green in, hourihane at 10 Thor in with jedinak and keep it tight .

  8. Adomah has a hamstring problem, and may not play, but Jack is a definite non-starter.

    Grabban is almost certain to play, and Onomah if Adomah doesn’t make it. Bruce may go for an intense start, hope to nick a goal, and then close up the shop. we will just have to be patient.

  9. Maybe he will consider Tuanzebe for Elmo, MK , as he has not had a proper debut yet. We would then have some good quick boys around in defence, if he plays Bjarnason in front of the defence, rather than Jedinak.

    Jedinak can be used later in the game if we can get in front, and then hold it.

  10. With Adomah, was great he went on to score last week, but I was worried at the time about him staying on and playing through it.

    And in the lineup I posted, I did kind of forget about Tuanzebe. I’d have him in there instead of Onomah as far as the middle goes.

  11. I don’t mind thor and Tuanzebe in there both quick on the break and will need to shut that midfield down. Bit worried that we still have no Green or ohare on the bench but we have a 4th DM in Wheelan??

  12. Hourihane, Bjarnason, Snodgrass and Hogan all capable of scoring today, but maybe it will a Chester or JT with a header, or if not Hutton may surprise us all and get his first goal…!!!!

  13. Agreed Mark, I don’t mind that line up as they have pace.
    Would be interesting to know how they’ve been using Tuanzebe during training and how he’ll fit in today.
    We have a mostly attacking bench for a change, presumably in case we go behind and need to chase the game.

  14. Seems our main hope is a through ball from Johnson for Snodgras to run onto.
    Do Fulham have a small pitch.
    In thevpremiership we used to have one of the largest, is that also the case in the championship anyone know?

  15. According to Sky, sounds a very poor display by Villa. No decent service to a very lonely Hogan, who still has difficulty in putting chances away. Defence has been in total disarray, and most of the passing has been sideways…..

  16. oh well normal service is resumed, what Fulham do next could have massive effects on 2nd, they have all the top 7 bar us now in their next 5 games. could put them in the driving seat, this was a crucial game for us from that respect. Wolves dropping points too and a fairly stiff next five games ending in us. Onwards to PNE on tues.

  17. JC- Hard to take the bus to Fulham the streets are narrow and they know the back alleys to well, didn’t think we pressed as a unit today and Tuanzabe our best player says it all.

  18. We have to move on, but disappointed that Steve Bruce never went with a plan to win the game, and failed to contain Sessignon.

    Would have been happier if we had gone to show that we intended to win and maintain our second place. We really cannot keep collapsing every time there is an injury.

    Wolves, at least ensured that they maintained their place at the top. PNE is going to be a difficult game now, and Villa need to be on top of their game, or ewe could start another backslide.

  19. Stats:

    Fulham 14 shots 2 gift goals…..one corner.

    Villa 7 shots. 2 on target no corners…..

    Johnstone should have held the first, but it slips through his hands into the net. second goal a gift from a sliced pass by Hutton, no goalkeeper …..thank you very much for a pure gift.

  20. PP- Without wanting to appear negative building a team around Jack was never going to be a viable option given his injury record and rate of being fouled every game. There has to be more to us than one player and I believe there is if we don’t just sit back. How to stop sessegnon don’t let him have the ball, we made it to easy to supply him.

  21. Paul…

    Actually it was Johnstone screwing up royally for the second. Takes a free kick wide right of the box, everyone up, hooks it straight to Ayite in acres of space in the center of the pitch.

  22. First half we shaded. Sess didnt have a kick and went on the rw against hutton. 2nd half we were poor.

    However first loss from 7 wins on trot.

    We never ever win at fulham and having jack and adomah out to big a ask going forward.

    Speaking of which adomah our for a while and jack prob out tues. how quick feelings in footy can change!

    Lots of twists and turns yet though.

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