As Villa’s remarkable resurgence continues, we got a bit of history to savor on a very good Friday, marching to a ninth consecutive victory for the first time in over a century. Hard to believe that in all the club’s history there’s never been a run of 10.

So, we’re looking to that today, and of course I ran across an ‘article’ quoting pundits who feel Villa are carrying too much expectation to keep it up.

I’ve written about streaks, how you just never know. As it stands, if Villa were to win out, that would come to 15 consecutive wins. Which is pretty hard to accomplish. It’s basically winning a third of a season all in one go.

Villa don’t have to win 15, though. Win the 10th, and we’re in the playoffs if I’ve done the math right. We could lose or draw in the remaining two regular-season fixtures. We could also lose or draw a first-round playoff match and still go through to the final. The final, of course, you have to win.

I don’t really pick up on a sense of pressure, though, which is the funny thing about streaks. Just not seeing it in the way we’ve been playing. Doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Just haven’t seen it. If anything, I’m sensing a hunger and mindset that speaks to the opposite of pressure. It’s like they’re relishing the situation. Maybe that changes once the playoffs are a reality.

Like everyone else, I’d like to witness a historic moment. Would like to see the 10th and what it implies. After that, I really don’t know what’s best. Which is where the manager, or head coach, steps in.

Say, for example, we win today, everything else works out, and we’re in. Does Smith sit a lot of starters to virtually guarantee a loss to get the pressure off? To get the odds sorted? Or do you just keep the foot on the pedal?

I’ve seen all kinds of different answers to this quandary, and all sort of results that follow. All I can say is let’s go ahead, set a new record, and then worry about it. Dean seems to be doing a good job keeping their heads straight.

As far as today goes, we won’t have Tammy, and Millwall might well be down a very significant player in Ben Thompson. Me, I’d be leaning strongly toward giving Keinan Davis the start over Kodjia if Jimmy Danger’s ribs cooperate. I think you get better hold-up play and more effort. But Deano sees them every day, and maybe he sees it differently. Otherwise, don’t see where you change anything unless Smith prefers a fresher Hourihane to Whelan. It’s also possible that Axel will miss out.

So we’ll see about the lineup. We’ll see whether we get to witness history. We’ll see whether we’re then basically playing two games that don’t matter much other than whether we’d play the second playoff semifinal leg at home and how Deano handles that.

Over to you.

Comments 83

  1. Excellent write-up as usual JC,

    Just finishing breakfast before hitting the road for Villa Park, on what could be an historic day!

    Let us hope that the Villa gods are with us today. Then win next week so that the Blades get automatic promotion, and Leeds end up in the play-offs..!!

  2. Thanks JC- I looked into long winning streaks and Arsenal held it since the 80’s with 14 and did it again in 2002 with Man city going one better now on 15. Villa I believe have an 11 game streak which includes 9 league 2 cup from the late 1800’s . It appears long winning streaks culminate in winning something, who’d of thought 🙂

    As far as pressure I like Dean Smiths approach of one game at a time, he takes an in-depth approach starting with recovery back at Bodymoor heath( in the early hours after the game and return trip sometimes). They then debrief and begin briefing on the next opponent and further practical learning and fitness stuff leading up to it. I would be amazed if the players have time to stress.

    The team seem very together, nobody sulking (even Kodjia) and constant banter, players that play well have the chance of playing again, all simple but effective motivation.

  3. Too soon for Axel, as well…

    Steer; Elmohamady; Jedinak; Mings; Taylor; Whelan; McGinn; Grealish; El Ghazi; Adomah; Kodjia.

    Subs: Sarkic; Davis; Bjarnason; Elphick; Lansbury; Hourihane; Green

  4. Ha. Yeah, sort of strange how players are slotting in and out, isn’t it? Not sure that’s how you’re supposed to do it at Villa, but…

    To your other point, Deano is keeping them busy and focused, so you’re right, there’s less time to worry and they feel like they’re as prepared as they can be. Prepared. Hmm. Wonder where I’ve seen that before?

    Anyway, he’s done a good job managing the players. That week with Wednesday, Rotherham and Bristol…If anyone wasn’t up for it, there were plenty of opportunities to go missing.

  5. If I was to try to put a finger on kodjias weakness it’s anticipation, sometimes you have to make the player in possessions mind up with your runs.

  6. Millwall are defending deep but Villa have been patient, need one good pass to unlock them. I think the wind is not doing any favours from corners or free kicks, so a goal needs to come from open play.

    I’m loving the confidence on the ball, what a joy to watch.

  7. They do look so much more comfortable, Villalore. These are the kinds of opponents that used to give us fits, trying to close down. We’re much better playing it quickly out of trouble, knowing where help will be, getting things re-set.

  8. yep 10 on the bounce and I think that playing the top two and hopefully getting the right results will keep the standards up, where as two easier seeming games might not. Will also give us some idea of where we really are teamwise.

    No doubt the defence will get a stern test along with Steer.

  9. Will be very curious to see how Smith approaches the last two. I’m sure we’d like to have the second leg at Villa Park, but this is where he’s got to really know his players.

  10. VillaMD
    I think Tuanzebe is on grass & will be training at some point this week
    Hause is probably a little behind him but is on the grass this week
    It’s no word on Abraham that bothers me

    It was good to see Green on the pitch, at least we’ve got 3 ex youth players on the pitch now,

  11. Congrats Villa. Well done Deano. We’ve reached the play offs. Hats off to Compass. We had no chance last June. We’re going like a steam train right now. Can’t believe we only had 45 points 10 games ago.

    Looks like the yam yams. Bring them on.

  12. VILLA team for EPL

    Jed Steer

    Hause – Alex – Mings – New French lad we signed in Jan

    AEG – Lansbury – McCarthy from Everton – Doyle Hayes/ o’Hare
    New striker

  13. Heroes,

    Yes, that’s the question that’s been bothering me. I’ve seen teams in other sports go on epic streaks that take them over the line, or end up falling short.

    It’s so hard to know. Sometimes you’ve just been riding your luck, or you just end up with no luck, or you run into another team that isn’t carrying that and gets to be the underdog, which often frees players up mentally.

    Seems to me Smith wants to keep going out to win. We’ll see by his selections what he actually means, but I’d guess they’ll be going out to beat Leeds, field a full-strength squad. Then I’m thinking maybe he reassesses depending on the result/performance.

    Doesn’t seem fazed by the idea of going for 15, and if he can convince the players…

  14. I am very very excited about davis under smith.

    I love his style and think he is a great prospect. Holds the ball up so so well which is a dying art. Is massive for a team to get up the pitch. He lays it off well and seems to have a nice left foot.

    Would play him next 2 games

  15. Heroes,

    Yes. Davis has really looked the part coming on. Like everyone else, he seems to be benefiting from the training and structure. It really does help coming into a side that’s organized and drilled. He can depend on the players around him and, like others, slot into a system that helps him know his role, and just play. Would love to seem him get a goal, that’s all that’s been missing for him.

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