There’s been football while we’ve all chased links and been up and down the January roller coaster. We’ve clawed our way back to momentary safety by beating Burnley 2-1 on New Year’s day, drawing with Brighton 1-1, and beating Watford 2-1. Tucked in there amidst scratching our way back to 16th, have been the 1-1 draw and 2-1 victory over Leicester. Now Bournemouth.
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.
Since the festive fixtures didn’t deliver the breathing room we would’ve wanted, and Watford’s resurgence under Nigel Pearson has not been helpful, we’re really right up against it. But with a win tonight, we’ll have done ourselves a huge favor.
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.