Have no fear Aston Villa fans, we have seen the back of the Sheffield clubs for a while. After a 4-1 loss at Bramall Lane earlier this season, it didn’t look like it could be worse but last week’s home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday felt even more disappointing to many fans. The games do not get easier though.
A trip to Ashton Gate provides another stern test for Steve Bruce’s men as Bristol City have been a thorn in Villa’s side since their relegation from the Premier League. Under the floodlights on Friday night, with the cameras watching, the promotion chasers have to pick themselves up and bounce back or it may be Bruce who pays the price.
For most people, a manager isn’t always judged on his losses. Instead, they can be judged on what comes next so Bruce will not it is a vital to get a reaction in Bristol. One loss is disappointing. Two losses are worrying while three could be the start of a slump. Villa have to avoid any of that happening.
Bruce has a very strong side to choose from, but the likes of Scott Hogan, Andre Moreira and Keinan Davis are still out with their respective injuries. The manager’s main point of contention will be whether to go with two up front. Both Kodjia and Abraham represent a big threat for Villa, but will Bruce go with both of them against the Robins?
Another talking point will be how to get the best out of Jack Grealish. The Englishman signed a new contract this week to the delight of many Villa fans, but his performance on the left wing against Wednesday was worrying to see. Grealish is at his best when he plays in the middle, but with all the talent available, it remains to be seen where Villa’s number ten will line up on Friday.
One man who has been impressed with Grealish is goalkeeper Orjan Nyland. Speaking to the club website, the Norwegian said: “I am so impressed with him in training – the thing that stands out is his great touch. He knows exactly what is happening all the time on the pitch. You can give him the ball when you need something to happen – or even when you’re in trouble and need an outlet.”
Bristol City are suffering with a minor injury crisis but the biggest loss for the Robins will be centre-back Tomas Kalas. The ex-Fulham man is out with a broken jaw, so Abraham or Kodjia may see his absence as an opportunity.
Predicted starting line-up to play Bristol City: Nyland, Elmohamady, Chester, Tuanzebe, Hutton; Bolasie, Hourihane, Whelan, McGinn, Grealish; Abraham
THE NUMBERS THAT MATTER
- Conor Hourihane has scored two goals in his last three games against Bristol City so don’t be surprised if the Irishman finds the net on Friday night.
- The last fixture between these two teams ended in a thumping 5-0 victory for Villa but Bristol City will be itching for a bit of payback.
- It’s just one victory in their last seven games for Villa as the Championship season kicks into a crunch time.
Written by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)
IMAGE CREDIT: AVFC