Having announced the team sheet for today’s encounter, Smith is sticking with the 3-4-3 that’s seen us beat Burnley and contain Leicester. Though results were generally favorable yesterday, Watford’s resurgence continued earlier today, and their 3-0 victory over Bournemouth sees Villa come into the match having dropped to 18th, one point behind. Which is to say, the draw that no pundit is predicting would be a very nice point to pick up.
Villa managed to record a vital, but costly, away win at Turf Moor on New Year’s Day, outlasting Burnley 1-2. The match was notable not only for getting us back out of the drop zone and seeing a new formation from Dean Smith, but also sadly for season-ending injuries to Wesley and Tom Heaton. What already looked to be an extremely important window suddenly became even more so.
Steve Bruce was on the touchline at Villa Park for the first time since a fateful cabbage took flight, and his side delivered a suitably underwhelming performance. Fortunately, he’s in charge of Newcastle now, and it was Dean Smith’s Villa who walked away deserved 2-0 winners.
It seems an eternity since we lost to Wolves, and while I always welcome the football back, I wish this one didn’t feel quite so important. Is it? Well, it is pretty big. We’ve got the normal business with Steve Bruce returning and wanting to prove the new owners and supporters wrong. Probably Dean Smith, too. We’ve got Villa needing a win. Makes for a big night under the lights.
Another two points slipped away on Saturday as Villa twice took the lead against visiting Burnley, but got pegged back to take just the one point in a 2-2 draw. And while it felt like a loss, there actually were enough good bits to leave me feeling alright a few days after.