“What will it mean?” “Not an awful lot if we don’t get promoted.” That’s the eight-game win streak for you. It’s been a great run, but with nothing assured, it really doesn’t mean anything. In fact, Villa more than likely have to extend their fantastic run to get a good feeling from it.

It’s simply the case that a long string of midseason draws means that even though it’s started to feel like a playoff spot is guaranteed, it’s anything but. Villa have opened up gaps, but with four left, there are still teams in the hunt, and they won’t necessarily be feeling the weight of expectations that Villa now carry. If you’re outside the spots, you’ve got nothing to lose. Friday and Monday will basically tell us whether we’re playing for it all, or facing the dreaded rebuild.

Of course, everything depends on results around us. But what Villa would really like is to put Bolton away, keep the pressure on everyone else, and look to the three remaining matches with a much higher probability of going through no matter what happens. Obviously easier said that done.

We know all about Bolton’s turmoil and place in the league. But with stabilization seeming to have arrived, there’s no reason they won’t put up a fight. That said, Villa have seen plenty of fight and found ways to win.

That means I don’t really know what to expect from the Wanderers. They could be hell-bent on staying up, they could sag and sink after falling behind. You never know. We do know that Villa have goals in them, and, having finally put in a fantastic performance without Jack Grealish, they should be feeling very good about themselves. Smith, though, like all good managers, is right in trying to keep the focus on one game at a time. You play who’s in front of you next, and that’s all you control.

And then there’s the question of whether Smith faces a selection headache. From his comments, John McGinn seems nailed on to start despite the cards, and I don’t see Grealish sitting on the bench. So, as always, will be down to Whelan vs. Hourihane. I’m guessing Whelan wins out. But with another crucial match against Millwall following close behind, you don’t know what the thinking will be.

So, it could be ugly. It could be sublime. All that matters with a very nearly full-strength squad facing a relegation struggler is getting another three points. We now control our destiny. Which means we have to seize it. Must-win? The math says it isn’t, and I’d like to think we’ve got enough to sidestep a draw or loss and keep moving. But wouldn’t we all be much more comfortable if we just moved the mark to nine in a row? Would be be pretty special to witness a historic run that ends up meaning a lot.

Over to you.

Comments 64

  1. Thanks JC- depends how superstitious you are but last time we managed 8 wins we got promoted in 2nd, and beat Norwich in the league cup final. We managed 20 wins from Jan onwards in cup and league with only one loss in the league and one in the FA cup, Drew 3 in a 24 game run.

    Its either been a season with a fairly level playing field or a poor league? I’d think Deans Smiths Villa with a full complement and a pre-season would of challenged the Wolves of last season or Norwich this if not for the obvious. We have taken a lot of points off immediate rivals and scored plenty against them too yet its still tight, That goal difference might be crucial. One game at a time is all part of the Dean Smith relaxed determination philosophy, Go in front play your game, go behind play your game, go 3 up or down play your game.

    I think a win today will settle the nerves and weakens the oppositions will, they have all been hoping its not all over but I have a sneaking feeling Boro will bore their way into 6th.

  2. OK, match day is here again. Thanks for the script JC – very accurate. The only team right now stopping us from getting promoted is Bolton. We must deal with them today.

    MK – Boro have Friend, Fry and Ayala missing from their defence today. The latter 2 are out for the season. That will definitely weaken them at the back, so although their fixtures look easier than the rest, they might yet struggle. Guess I’m hoping.

    Bristol and Derby are the other results I’ll be looking for today. But whichever way we cut the cake, the matches are disappearing fast and teams need to be up with their rivals. At this stage, 3 points is a big gap to bridge although always possible. Come on Villa!!

  3. Plug- we will see mate Boro have won their last two, I’d welcome them into the play offs myself they are made for us. Could be over by Monday if we are lucky.

  4. Mark,

    I think that’s the great shame of the season. Had it not been for the obvious as you say, we’d have been at or near the top. We’ve not been easy to beat, regardless of lineup. All the draws…A lot of those would’ve been wins if things had just carried on and we hadn’t been so suspect at the back given the available personnel.

    Every year there’s a team or two that ends up finding the league fairly easy when it comes down to results. And like Deano says, not anyone I really ‘fear’ in the league.

    Dunno whether that’s down to it being a bit weaker than usual, or just how lethal we’ve looked when everyone plays to their potential. But we’ve hit our stride at just the right time, obviously, and I’m all for being superstitious.

  5. Cheers, Plug.

    Have to admit, starting to look ahead a little. Seems like we’re destined to play WBA in the first round as things are going. Haven’t really seen much of Sheffield U apart from our games with them. So, you start doing that whole “which is the easier path” and who would you rather face in a one-off for all the marbles. Seems like it’ll be the Blades, but would be nice if one of the teams vying for sixth (which we’ve had no problem with and would definitely be at a psychological advantage over) could knock them out.

    Regardless, we’ll get two good tests going into it all. Come through Leeds and Norwich feeling good, and, on paper, no one left is any tougher. But I really don’t look forward to a one-off. Necessary obstacle, but such a nervy affair with it all on the line.

  6. HT. Bolton paying a lot of attention to Grealish and AEG. Adomah finding more room, but we’ve obviously not done enough with it. Bolton staying aggressive off the ball, not offering much going forward, pretty disciplined.

    Villa have been looking wide for the most part, also trying to go over all the bodies.

  7. Great ball over the top from McGinn to Grealish, manages to get hold and somehow get it in Abraham’s path. Goes in bravely, looks like he probably got kicked in the head. Davis will come on, looks like.

  8. Tuanzebe looking alright, seemed to be an ankle. McGinn off for Hourihane, and looks like Deano won’t take any risks with Axel, looks like Jedi will come on.

  9. All petering out, doesn’t look like Bolton ever really thought about trying to stay up today. Gave it a go for 15mins or so, made it scrappy, but no real urgency after they fell behind.

  10. It was like a training game. Villa stepped it up for 15 minutes after half time, scored 2 and then went back to training mode. The 3 points are claimed and so is 9 on the trot. McGinn didn’t get booked, another positive.

    Boro scraped home, Bristol and Derby lost ground. I think 1 more win and we are in the play offs. Time for a few ales.

  11. Exciting times to be a Villa fan. So much nicer than looking for bright spots in a game.
    Don’t take your foot off the gas Dean.

  12. Another great Villa win and another record equalled!

    Hats off to Dean and the boys…… Roll on Monday and another trip to Villa Park!!!

    Let’s make it ten from Len…….

  13. Great win. I don’t know pubs around Wembley, but if we make it I’m going. Apologies, but I’ve lived in Baltimore for the past 26 years – but I still love The Villa more than anything after all these years

  14. Millwall’s best player over the last couple of months, midfielder Ben Thompson was taken off in the first half yesterday with a reported hamstring pull. So he will be missing against Villa.

    In 3 of the last 4 games Millwall have played, the opposition has had a player sent off. A fact not lost on Deano no doubt. I’m sure John McGinn will avoid any wind ups. Hope the other players do too.

  15. A very good point Plug!

    Kodija is not averse to being wound up either, also Mings has a pretty low boiling point, so Dean will need to ensure they all remain calm.

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