Happy New Year, Villans! First and foremost, I’d like to take this opportunity from everyone at The Claret & View to thank all of our loyal readers and commenters. There are no words to express the gratitude we all thoroughly share for the support we have received. Aston Villa supporters near and far have contacted us in some capacity since the inception of The Claret & View and the continued interest we have gotten has exceeded expectations. Actor and Villa supporter David Bradley was once quoted as saying, “Being part of the Aston Villa family is like being a part of my family.” While the contributors to The Claret & View are in different corners of the world, the support we have garnered has solidified the belief that Aston Villa supporters are in fact a far-reaching family. Sometimes we don’t always get along. Sometimes we all see eye to eye. But one thing is for certain… Claret and Blue runs through all of our veins. Again, thank you.
After a late goal by Robert Snodgrass in the match against Middlesbrough a mere three days ago that granted the supporters a win, Aston Villa kick off 2018 with a New Years Day clash against Bristol City. Villa have not played a New Years Day match outside of the top-flight of English football since 1988. Bristol currently sit 3rd in the Championship, and only one point off of Derby County for an automatic promotion place on the table. While Aston Villa sit 7th on the table, this match could be an indicator of how the second part of the Championship season will go for the Claret and Blue.
Speaking of Snodgrass, the talented winger has a bit of a history when it comes to lining up against Bristol City. The Villa man has been included in seven goals in five Championship matches when facing Bristol City. By the numbers, Snodgrass is averaging a goal or an assist every 59.4 minutes against Bristol City. It seems as though Mr. Snodgrass is quietly going about his business for Aston Villa, and his loan-in from West Ham has payed off in spades for Steve Bruce. Snodgrass now has 4 goals and 5 assists on the season and he could very well be staking a massive claim for Steve Bruce to try his hardest to make him a permanent player for Villa.
The previous match for Bristol City against Wolverhampton did not finish without any sort of drama. Goalkeeper Frank Fielding was given a straight red card and will be unavailable for the game against Aston Villa. Alas, with a sickness plaguing the Aston Villa camp that saw Glenn Whelan, Neil Taylor and Keinan Davis exempt for selection against Middlesbrough, team selection for Steve Bruce will be touch and go all the way up until kickoff.
The starting eleven for Steve Bruce has seen a bit of a shake-up in the last handful of games. Alan Hutton playing on the left has been seen a few times throughout the season, but ‘The Scottish Cafu’ did a fine job out of his natural position at right-back. Tommy Elphick has also been a name on the Villa supporters lips after the past few contests. Elphick was seen after the Boro game walking over to the travelling Villa supporters to celebrate the win with them in a burst of pure emotion. There is one thing to be sure of and it is that no one is happier to be included back into the squad for Tommy Elphick than Tommy Elphick himself. The former Bournemouth man is still lauded by their supporters as being a mighty fine defender, and I’m sure the passion and professionalism shown by Elphick has not went unnoticed in the Villa dressing room during this recent rash of injury woe.
The play of Bristol City this season can be boiled down to the play of attacking midfielder Bobby Reid, centre-back Aden Flint, and striker Jamie Paterson. Reid is Bristol’s’ top goal scorer and has netted a goal eleven times. Even as a defender, Aden Flint has found the back of the net six times and has been an absolute terror for the opposition on set pieces and free-kicks in close vicinity to the 18-yard box. Jamie Paterson is doing his bit by scoring and contributing to goals with 5 goals and 6 assists. This could be a game where we see the very best out of Villa mainstay James Chester in the heart of defence. Every time Villa seems to come up against a formidable attack minded club like Bristol City, Chester puts heart and soul on the line to do all he can to avoid conceding goals.