A team managed by Dean Smith versus a team managed by Frank Lampard. Sounds like quite a treat for fans to witness, right? Well, usually it would be a game full of fast-flowing football but with Villa not quite being the finished package, it may be a tough game for the Claret and Blue at Pride Park on Saturday.
It’s the start of an important run of games for Villa, with Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest and Middlesborough to follow after next week’s international break. Sitting in the bottom half of the table, it’s important that the team start picking up points and climbing the table but Lampard’s Rams have promotion hopes of their own.
The home side will be looking to break into the top two with a positive results and ended Birmingham’s good form with a win last week. Lampard and his players have gained a lot of steam with their style of play, but the Championship is well-known to twist and turn at a drop of the hat.
Smith has had a month to work with his players and the effect has been clear to see with Villa’s performances over the last few weeks. Speaking to the club website, veteran Scottish defender Alan Hutton was full of praise for the new manager.
He said: “There’s a big emphasis on pressing, getting to the ball quicker and winning it back quicker. That, of course, is going to allow us to get forward more.
“It’s been intense, but we’ve taken to it well. We’re enjoying the hard work.”
Villa have a near fully-strength squad to pick from, which is a rarity at B6 in the past two seasons. Scott Hogan is pushing for a start, Tammy Abraham is looking to continue his good form and Axel Tuanzebe is going from strength to strength as James Chester’s centre-back partner. One man is definitely pushing for a place in the starting eleven is Yannick Bolasie.
The winger is yet to start since joining from Everton on loan, but a string of impressive substitute cameos have excited the Villa fans. Speaking about the former Crystal Palace man, Smith said: “I am really pleased with how he’s responded. I thought he was a real threat when he came on against Bolton.
“He looked powerful. He looked quick. He looked strong. He looked a bag full of tricks. That’s what I remember of him.
“I thought he did that when he came off the bench against QPR, too. It’s pleasing we have someone of that quality who’s getting better and better.”
Predicted starting line-up to play Derby County: Nyland; Hutton, Tuanzebe, Chester, Taylor; Grealish, Hourihane, McGinn; Bolasie, Abraham, Adomah
THE NUMBERS THAT MATTER
- Villa have a good recent league record against Derby, losing just one of their last seven games against them and winning four.
- The last time Villa won at Pride Park though was 2006 as Stiliyan Petrov’s memorable strike downed the Rams in a 6-0 demolition.
- Villa will fancy their chances of at least getting on the score-sheet on Saturday. Derby have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last ten games, with their last shut-out coming against Blackburn on the 18th August.
Written by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)
IMAGE CREDIT: AVFC