Following the astonishing 5-5 spectacle at Villa Park midweek, it’s off to the Riverside to take on third-place Middlesbrough. Boro are unbeaten in their last five, and have only lost twice all year, and the obvious statistic of interest is 22 goals scored versus 10 conceded. Villa have netted 36 times, by comparison, and conceded 30.
Aitor Karanka has been saying Forest are very different than small heath, so one assumes we’ll see fewer muggings and more football. For me, at the moment, it’s all about Villa playing Villa’s game. Which, admittedly, is still uncharted territory.
It’s The Derby up next, and no one really cares how it happens—we just want to see Villa break small heath hearts. It’s about emotion and pride, which is why you most often will simply say, “throw out the table, recent form, and all the rest.”
On Saturday, Aston Villa delivered their most comprehensive performance of the season to put hosts Derby County to the sword 0-3 and gain their first away victory since the season opener at Hull. For vast swaths of the game Villa dominated play, and for once it was the opponent that looked dazed and demoralized at the final whistle.
Villa are at Derby today, who’ve done well under new man Frank Lampard and sit in 5th, unbeaten in their last five. Going into the game they’re seven points better off than the Lions. Smith will be looking to close that to four after a proper Saturday-to-Saturday schedule.