Follow us on Twitter @claretandview // Words by Mark Jirobe (@VillaMarkPGH)
With a quick turn around of only three days, Steve Bruce has to attempt to get Aston Villa up and ready for a Saturday contest against Sheffield Wednesday. Bruce will be delighted that this specific match is being held at Villa Park, and has all the makings of one that they should be winning, although not with complete ease. The injury report at Villa after the Preston game will have a monumental impact on how manager Steve Bruce alters his squad.
Steve Bruce revealed in his press conference that Josh Onomah and Robert Snodgrass each have suffered knocks after the Preston match, and both players should be pre-kickoff decisions. In the event that Onomah can not go ahead with his duties, we may all see the return of Jack Grealish into Onomahs’ usual central attacking midfield role. It might not be a far cry to see youngster Callum O’Hare on the bench to replace Grealish in the event of early fatigue or mediocre form from the Number 10 as well. Jonathan Kodjia is still being plagued by his ankle injury, and Keinan Davis will be the lone striker against Wednesday.
Sheffield Wednesday and their manager Carlos Carvalhal will be looking to win back-to-back wins for only the second time so far in this campaign. They are surely not getting any help by one-time Aston Villa transfer target Jordan Rhodes. Although Rhodes scored in the Owls last game against Millwall, it was the first instance of the striker finding the net in twenty-four league game appearances. Another shocking note is that one would have to look back to April of 2016 to find the last time Rhodes scored goals in back-to-back games.
The Owls have had a bit of a topsy-turvy season so far through fifteen games played. They have five wins, five draws and five losses to their name. They currently sit 14th on the Championship table with 20 points, although this specific end of the table is a very tight knit affair at the moment. Wednesday are also conceding 1.2 goals a game after conceding a total of 18 goals thus far. While Wednesday have scored 19 goals, and obtaining a meagre +1 goal differential, 17 of those goals have come from within the opposition box. Only twice this season have Wednesday managed to find the back of the net from a distance. This favours heavily onto the heads of in-form defensive duo James Chester and John Terry. Wednesday will undoubtedly try to bully Chester and Terry into error inside of the box by way of the middle of the park. Wednesday does not attempt to cross the ball from wide positions and that fact is solidified by their lowly amount of 275 total crosses attempted throughout fifteen games played. Of those 275 crosses, they only boast a success rate of 22%. Not exactly a threatening percentage by any stretch of the imagination. With the fullback partnership that is expected of Ahmed Elmohamady and Alan Hutton, there should be no viable threat coming from the flanks in the Aston Villa defensive third with the depth of form between the two rearguards.
Villa are a very defensively strong group at the moment, only conceding 0.9 goals per game. If the Claret And Blue can keep up this kind of defensive prowess over the next handful of games at the very least, they will start to demoralise teams with frustration. That may come off as an archaic style of football to be played in the modern game, but it really does seem to be working well for the Villans up to this point. Against a side that struggles to string together positive performances, the defence should be on display for all to see once more against Sheffield Wednesday.
Aston Villa must keep pace on the table by achieving all three points in this contest. With Derby County one point below them and Bristol City two points ahead of them, Villa have to practice some very serious concentration before going into yet another international break.
Two weeks without football AND Villa are regaining form?
That’s just cruel…