Follow us on Twitter @claretandview // Words by Mark Jirobe (@VillaMarkPGH)
After a come from behind win against Queens Park Rangers at the weekend, Aston Villa host lowly Sunderland in a match where Villa are sure to prove the disparity between league position. A mere two days ago Sunderland appointed former Wales manager Chris Coleman as head coach. Although Coleman has managed Wales for the past six seasons, no amount of experience is sure to offset the absolutely woeful season that Sunderland have had up to this point in the Championship.
Sunderland have only won one game so far this season and see themselves rock bottom on the league table. Even with the appointment of a new manager, Sunderland would be hard pressed to get absolutely anything out of this match against Villa. Surely new boss Coleman will be attempting to figure out his choice of a starting eleven, even among a completely disjointed and at times very awkward looking squad.
You would have to be somewhat of a fortune teller to be able to predict exactly which players in the Sunderland squad will feature in this contest. And although I do not own a crystal ball, the goalkeeper position for the visiting team is just not very strong. Sunderland keepers Robbin Ruiter and Jason Steele are both close to conceding at least two goals per game and have featured almost a same number of matches. There has been quite the buzz going around that Aston Villa have lacked a ‘statement’ game of sorts, but this may be the fixture where we all see that happen. Granted Steve Bruce is not the kind of manager to change a tactic to try and embarrass an opponent, you can be sure that he knows the weaknesses of Sunderland and will look to see his players push their weight around when the opportunity presents itself.
With this fixture plotting out 2 games in 4 days for Aston Villa, there shouldn’t be much of a change of personnel on the cards. Not only did every Villa player do a fine job against QPR, they also should be roaring to go again after a come from behind victory coming off of the international break. With such players seeking playing time after an injury by the likes of Mile Jedinak and Jack Grealish, it would make more sense to employ them for the next game against Ipswich Town to maximise minutes.
Although Ahmed Elmohamady was rested for the QPR game, he may come back into the fold for Villa to give Robert Snodgrass a bit of a rest. Snodgrass was seen on multiple occasions during the QPR clutching and pressing on his ribs, a sure sign that his bruises there are not fully healed. Snodgrass has become quite the depended member of the starting eleven, and it would not be a bad idea to protect the wide-man if the opportunity presents itself.
After having a mountain of chances against QPR, Keinan Davis is sure to start again as the lone striker for Villa. The entire arsenal of skills was on display for the youngster at the weekend. Faultless dribbles, dependable hold-up play, absolutely incisive passing…the 19 year old seemed to have a vision and desire on the pitch that was unbridled and unmatched. One thing about Davis’ game that does not get talked about much is his ability to jump over even the most athletic defenders. If Keinan Davis is once again permitted to use his skills to the maximum application in this game against Sunderland, we may see Davis crack his little scoring drought he is having at the moment. The last time Davis’ found the back of the net was the 4-0 demolition of Burton Albion on 26 September.