With 19 games remaining in the EPL Championship season, Aston Villa host Barnsley in a game that could have big implications for both clubs.
Barnsley currently sit in 19th position with 27 points, 3 points out of the relegation zone. Barnsley have not had an absolutely dreadful record when playing away from home. Since defeating Villa 3-1 in February of last season, Barnsley have only conquered four wins in twenty away games. Sounds a little reminiscent of the Claret & Blue not too long ago, right Villans?
The leading scorer for Barnsley is Welsh striker Tom Bradshaw with 8 goals. While not being very tall in stature, Bradshaw has scored three of his goals via a header inside of the box. Alas, his average match rating of 6.1 isn’t anything that Villa should be fearful of with John Terry and James Chester predicted to start at the back at Villa Park.
Steve Bruce has had some choice words ahead of this game for his midfielder Birkir Bjarnason. Bruce exclaimed that Birkir has given him a real something to think about leading up to the Barnsley game after his performance against Nottingham Forest. Bruce has also said the man they call Thor finds himself on ‘pole position’ for this fixture. With Glenn Whelan and Mile Jedinak getting back to the training ground this week after picking up knocks, this may be Birkirs’ last chance to solidify his place as a regular in the Aston Villa starting eleven.
A wildcard for Barnsley could be Adam Hammill and every Villa player needs to keep an eye to him if he gets any time on the pitch. Hammill has created more goal scoring opportunities than any other player in the Championship without an assist with 39.
After a cracker of a game against Nottingham Forest, Robert Snodgrass could once again be the light that shines the way for Villa. Reports were abound that West Ham cannot recall the in-form winger which is absolutely excellent news for Villa supporters. Snodgrass and his ally on the opposite wing, Albert Adomah, have a knack for playing up against Barnsley. Adomah has tallied six goals and three assists in ten games against Barnsley, including a brace in this seasons reverse fixture.
It cannot be said enough what a winning run of form could do for Aston Villa in the coming weeks. Villa are currently six points behind Derby County for 2nd place on the Championship table. With results going their way, Villa could find themselves in 3rd place by the end of the day. Although it seems Wolverhampton Wanderers are running away with the league and auto-promotion, taking a hold of 2nd place is a realistic venture for Aston Villa.