Whilst only attaining a solitary point from their last three outings, Aston Villa host Reading at Villa Park for a game that both teams need a win from. Reading are still in the relegation dance at the bottom of the table, while the automatic promotion spots are all but a distant mishap for Villa, barring a complete 180 degree turn in form.
Reading come into this game with win in their previous outing, which was also the very first win for new Reading manager Paul Clement. Reading saw away Queens Park Rangers 1-0 after a Sone Aluko strike that may keep him in the squad against Aston Villa. Reading striker Yann Kermorgant was sent off in that match for amassing two yellow cards in 20 minutes after coming on as a substitute and will be sitting out for the game at Villa Park.
Reading are definitely still dancing with relegation, placing 19th on the Championship table with 39 points from 39 games. With a new manager after a masterful result against Queens Park Rangers, do not doubt that Reading will lay down to give Aston Villa their first win in four matches. While Aston Villa have only lost two games at Villa Park all season, the Claret And Blue have not looked like themselves since a very convincing 4-1 victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Fortunately, The Royals have only managed one win in their previous nine away games. Call it nerves or otherwise, Villa need to get back to winning ways in any type of fashion.
Villa manager Steve Bruce may spring a surprise in the form of striker selection for this contest versus Reading. Jonathan Kodjia came on as a sub for Villa against Hull City earlier on in the week, and may get a start to not only boost his match fitness but his confidence as well. Kodjia looked a little awry against Hull City, which Steve Bruce acknowledged in his post-match comments, but it is only to be expected from a player who has been out via injury for almost six months.
Look for Conor Hourihane and Ahmed Elmohamady to be involved in the starting eleven for Aston Villa. While Elmohamady came on a substitute for Axel Tuanzebe against Hull City, Tuanzebe lacked any type of real chemistry with prolific right-winger Robert Snodgrass and at times it was painfully obvious. Snodgrass was void of any real play-making due to Tuanzebe seeming not to want to overlap Snodgrass to give the winger an exit plan in case of being pressed. If Villa are to keep pace with the rest of the league, Steve Bruce must be aware that chemistry and trusting relationships must be exploited and utilised. Hourihane, on the other hand, never made it onto the pitch for Villa against Hull City. The midfield duo of Mile Jedinak and Henri Lansbury didn’t do a woeful job by any means, but now that Hourihane will be rested after international duty, it would be a far cry to see the Ireland international not return to the starting eleven for Aston Villa.
Words by Mark Jirobe (@VillaMarkPGH) // Follow us on Twitter (@claretandview)