And then there were five. With 41 played, sixth-placed Bristol City come to Villa Park in a big late-season clash for both clubs. Do Villa keep on winning? Is it time for the bubble to burst?
It’s hard to pick against Villa at the moment. But I’ve just seen the team sheet, and I don’t see Grealish on it, never mind Hause. Apparently Jack’s ill. So If Villa are to win today, someone’s going to have to step up besides Mile, and you’d probably put your money on McGinn, the way he’s been playing.
Depending on results, a draw wouldn’t be the worst thing, but the five-point gap between us and Boro could be down to just two by day’s end if we lose and they beat Hull at home. That said, streaks are funny things. They either make you invincible (witness the improbable 10-man comeback against Rotherham midweek and the injury-time winner at Hillsborough), or they start to carry a weight of expectations. No one would predict Villa would win out, the odds are just too far against it, and a loss or draw can reset the clock. But the clock’s ticking, and it would be a lot better to beat the Robbins and see the streak end after than for us to come up short today.
So, maybe fate has decided to make this run-in even more interesting than it already was. We’ll see what Dean and the players can pull out of the hat. They’d started to play better without Jack a couple games before his return, and you’d like to think there’d be a desire to show they can win without him. But it’s a big loss, and I was already worried just for Jedinak coming into the side. If we can get a result without the club’s talisman, we may well be unstoppable at this point. Streaks are funny things.
Steer; Elmohamady, Tuanzebe, Jedinak, Taylor, Whelan, Hourihane, McGinn, El Ghazi, Adomah, Abraham.
Subs: Lansbury, Ramsey, Green, Davis, Sarkic, Bjarnason, Hutton
Over to you.