Leicester vs Aston Villa

I wouldn’t necessarily have thought there’d be a lot riding on this game a few weeks back. But now it kind of looks like there might be. Villa may have actually found themselves with something to play for after all…However unexpectedly.

Wolves vs. Aston Villa: The Run-in Starts

If anyone were to ask what the most significant fixture of this season was, pretty sure a number of us would point to Villa’s collapse in the reverse fixture in October. So, in some ways, sitting a place and 10 points behind Wolves, who blew a 2-0 lead themselves against Leeds to lose 3-2 in their last outing, this match might be some kind of a measuring stick. Might mean nothing.

But with seven left to play and five clubs level or within three points of Villa, the goal of a top-half finish ought to lend some importance to the outcome.

The Business End of the Season Starts with Leeds

Right now, I like where Villa are at. With only the pressure of impressing the manager and retaining a spot next season, they’ve got only themselves to look at. Sure, some kind of calamity could see them dragged into danger, but putting that aside, it’s about looking inward and upward. Far from having nothing to play for, they’ve got just enough to chase for now as far as the table goes. Being a largely overlooked dark horse is a good place for a squad to find itself in.

A Depressing Familiarity in Villa’s Brentford Failure

I didn’t enjoy Sunday at all. But I wasn’t necessarily surprised. The team is reverting to norm. You can have all the expectations you like, but some are more reasonable than others. The squad is the squad, and despite pressure from above to achieve more now, Villa are still mid-table quality. You can tweak the system a bit, set different standards, emphasize different things, but you’re still working with the same clay.

Aston Villa vs. Manchester City: Grealish Returns—Sort Of

We know City will boss possession. We know Villa will have to be disciplined on and off the ball. We know that unless City have a poor game, Villa will have to be at their best, whatever that is at this moment, to give a good account. Even if City are poor, Villa probably have to be at their best to get a result.

In situations like this, it has to be a big plus that Gerrard’s been at the same level and knows what it takes. That should give the squad confidence in the game plan and they’ll know the expectations will be high. Gerrard will rate the performance based on effort, decisions, and executing the plan more so than the result.