There’s been a lively debate following the City loss. Clearly they’re the better side, but you’d like to think Villa could’ve gotten something out of it had they not made it a 10 v 10. But, water under the bridge now, and all eyes turn to the Baggies and hopes of a little damage control.
The biggest news is that almost in defiance of supporters, Dean Smith has put Ross Barkley back in the starting XI. All the more surprising, perhaps, given that harsh words were apparently directed towards Barkley’s efforts from Tyrone Mings during the 2-1 defeat midweek. Maybe some home truths were delivered, followed by a suitable period of self-reflection. Your guess is as good as mine here, but if Ross was banging down Dean’s door, he’s got some work to do out on the pitch to reward the manager.
Some will also argue that Kaine Kesler should’ve been given the start ahead of Elmohamady in Cash’s absence. As it is, he doesn’t make the bench. Jacob Ramsey does, unsurprisingly, as does Jaden Philogene-Bidace. Despite Philogene-Bidace’s presence in the matchday squad, it’s clear Smith is not yet committed to blooding the youngsters in the during the run-in. Perhaps he sees it as a white flag.
Every bit as interesting is that Wesley is back in the dugout after an absence of 15-16mos. A cameo would be nice, but one wonders where he’s really at.
So, today’s selections will be where all the focus is. Smith’s taken a big chance with Ross. I can only hope Barkley is capable of seizing it.
Over to you.