It’s City, finally, and a funny time to be playing them given their recent form and the 3-3 draw with Spurs. They’re not at their best and they need a win, never mind the three points.
For Villa, it’s inevitably going to be seen as a referendum on both our aspirations and quality. Anytime you’re an outsider dancing around the top 4, well, there are going to be questions until you notch a signal victory. Is tonight the night?
Legia have become Villa’s clear rivals to top the group. Winning the group isn’t everything, but it does avoid an extra high-stakes fixture and minutes on the players’ legs. Legia of course shocked Villa in Warsaw, and have proven to be a tough, disciplined outfit.
Villa travel to London a little banged up from international duties for what is turning out to be a fairly significant match at this point in the season. After today’s results, Villa could leapfrog Spurs into fourth, just two points off the top.
Off the flat showing at the City Ground, Villa are back home to host AZ Alkmaar in their return fixture. Emery’s made a few changes to freshen things up a bit and rotate. In come Carlos, Lenglet, Tielemans, and Bailey. Duran is back on the bench. Will AZ pose a tougher test than two weeks ago?
The biggest challenge Villa face now is mentality. We’ve reached a position where consistency is the fundamental issue. And consistency has a lot to do with self-belief. Winning teams find ways to win. Which, yes, is down to quality, but also a belief in their ability to get results time after time.