It’s the season of spook but when Friday night rolls around, Dean Smith will be hoping for no shocks or surprises when his Villa side host Bolton Wanderers in the Championship.
Despite some promising performances in his first few games as manager, the results are yet to really pick up from the form he inherited from Steve Bruce. A 1-0 loss away to QPR was a really disappointing results despite the decent performance. Villa will be expecting to pick up points from games such as that, but Villa get to pick themselves up again with another Friday night game.
With two losses from their last two games, a return to B6 is a positive for Smith’s team against a Bolton side who have been struggling as of late. Wanderers have failed to win a game of football since the 29th September so this is a game that Smith has to target three points from. He just has to.
A plus for Smith will be his side’s home form so far this season. A loss to Sheffield Wednesday is the only blemish at Villa Park this term and they will be looking to continue that under the bright lights against the Lancashire side.
Speaking ahead of the game to club media, Smith discussed the importance of the home support to the team.
He said: “I went into my first game as Head Coach with an idea in my head about how loud the crowd would be against Swansea – but it definitely surpassed my expectations.
“I thought the lads played well to get the win but, genuinely, you can’t underestimate the importance of the fans in getting the team over the line.
“They drive you forward when you’re struggling and they power you on when you’re winning. They are vital.
“I was certainly left with an impression in my head about what the fans can do when the place is packed. And the players were talking about it in the dressing room after the game, too. They loved the atmosphere and I want that again and again here at Villa Park.
“Bolton are next up and I’d urge the fans to come and back us again. They’re so vital. They are our catalyst in every moment of the match. They can mean the difference between victory and defeat.”
It seems like Smith has settled on a back five until January at the least. Neil Taylor has managed to force his way back in at left-back while the centre-back pairing for James Chester and Axel Tuanzebe looks here to stay this season. It’s further up the field that Smith has selection dilemmas.
Birkir Bjarnason is confirmed to miss the game after the injury he suffered against QPR so who does Smith place in that defensive midfield position? The front-runner is Glenn Whelan, who started the game away to Norwich City recently, but he could choose give Mile Jedinak his first minutes under the tutelage of the Brentford boss.
Yannick Bolasie will be pushing for a start after an impressive cameo at Loftus Road while Anwar El Ghazi will be hoping for another chance to impress his new manager.
Predicted Aston Villa starting line-up to face Bolton Wanderers: Nyland; Hutton, Tuanzebe, Chester, Taylor; Whelan, McGinn, Grealish; Bolasie, Kodjia, Abraham
THE NUMBERS THAT MATTER
- Tammy Abraham will be looking to make it the third successive home game in which he scores for Villa after netting against Preston and Swansea last month.
- Bolton have an impressive recent record against Villa, winning four of the last six encounters between the two sides.
- Villa are five points worse off than they were last season as Steve Bruce’s then new side were battling in the top six as they entered November.
Written by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)
IMAGE CREDIT: AVFC