Bournemouth today as Villa Park sees its first Premier League action in three seasons, and most on the outside would say it’s a match-up between two teams looking to avoid the drop. Which is pretty much what 10-14 of the teams in the PL are trying to do—though some will obviously have a much easier time of it than others.
So how will Villa step back onto to the big stage? Be wonderful to get something, and I know Dean will have been working the team all week with that in mind, but really it will be about the performance and character. Points will be a bonus. Which isn’t to say I don’t think we can come away with something. But it’s all going to be a bit faster, and every player in the other shirt is going to be of that much higher quality than we’ve been used to.
Here we are again, three games between another season in the Championship or a return to the big stage. And if Villa want it enough and go play like it, I’d not bet against them.
Eleven games back, I don’t know that anyone would’ve said we’d be playing this last fixture, never mind the one before, safely ensconced in the playoff spots. But we’re back where we were last May, and what looked an intimidating way to finish the season has instead turned into a management exercise for Dean Smith. Expectations. Momentum. Sharpness. Albion. These will be the things on Smith’s mind, and no doubt the players’.
A juicy enough fixture today, and Dean Smith is fielding a full-strength side, with the exception of Tammy Abraham.