Middlesbrough came calling Saturday at a rather important juncture in Villa’s season, and promised a stern test. However, Villa largely brushed Tony Pulis’ men and tactics aside to cruise to a vital 3-0 win that saw us climb back into the promotion places for the first time since something like the sixth week of the campaign. Not a bad day.
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.
Since the job’s only halfway done, the business at hand tonight will be all about whether Boro can or will shuffle things around. Or whether you can negate Traore twice in four days using the same tactics. In other words, how will Adama and Tony Pulis react? And can Villa conjure up a repeat performance? Boro will be desperate, and Villa can’t afford to retreat into a shell. Now’s the time to roar and give Fulham something to think about.
Here we are. Forty-six games played, 46 games out the window. There’s only two that count, now. Villa’s aspirations, kindled by Dr. Tony Xia’s ambitions, will either be within reach or cruelly denied by the time we crawl into bed Tuesday night. And how we feel tonight may well be all we need to know.