In recent years, I’ve dismissed cup competitions for Villa because we’ve been up against it, and the extra games don’t seem to help survival or promotion. They’re a distraction: fatigue, injury, possible demoralization. The only value has seemed to be in getting minutes in match conditions for players and combinations that don’t start regularly. But tonight’s game is a little different.
Massive game for us, Brighton, too, really. Have the side galvanized themselves after watching City take them apart? Are they ready to fight? All soon to be answered. And to say I’ll be on the edge of my seat would be an understatement. All I can say is Come on You Villa Boys. Just win.
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.
If nothing else, Bramall Lane will feel a bit more familiar than Stamford Bridge or Old Trafford as Villa seek to get back to winning ways. Not sure it’s going to be any easier to get a result, though.