Aston Villa will host Cardiff City for a contest where both teams are attempting to get back on track for the remainder of the Championship season. Cardiff head to Villa Park winless in their last two league matches despite winning the previous three. Villa have it worse however, only registering one win in their previous five matches.
Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock will be sure to want to do all he can after his side suffered a tough loss to Wolves on the weekend. Some Cardiff City supporters are split down the middle between Warnock’s intentions to either try and chase Wolves, or just keep pace with in-form and threatening Fulham. Villa manager Steve Bruce recently admitted, “Neil Warnock’s been in it a long time and I’ve been up against him many times, so it doesn’t surprise me the job he’s done at Cardiff.” Bruce has a little bit of a statistical managerial advantage over Warnock, winning against The Bluebirds manager on all six occasions in previous home Football League matches.
The Villa gaffer has also been very critical of his side leading up to the Cardiff City match. After losing 3-1 in the previous fixture to Norwich City, Bruce said his side was “sloppy in and out of possession” and that “If we play like we did against Norwich again, we’ll get turned over. I expect us to be better.”
Claret & Blue supporters are hoping to see a much better performance against a Cardiff City team that have the potential to frustrate the Villans. This a must bounce-back game for Aston Villa. There are no uncertain terms about it.
On the injury front for Aston Villa, Alan Hutton remains out for duty. The right-back position has been filled in mostly by Ahmed Elmohamady, but don’t be surprised if Axel Tuanzebe is utilised. While Elmohamady didn’t have his best showing against Norwich, this may be the young loanees chance to impress in a big game situation.
Other selection news is as good of a guess as any for Aston Villa in this contest. Glenn Whelan found himself healthy and on the bench against Norwich City, but never on the pitch. Whelan may just find himself in the starting squad again, but it would be harsh to bench Birkir Bjarnason after a performance where the Icelandic midfielder ended the match with a 95% pass success rate. Jonathan Kodjia might also be called upon as the lone striker, replacing Scott Hogan, if Steve Bruce maintains the original formation used at Carrow Road. Hogan has only found the back of the net twice in his previous twelve games played. As much as plenty of Villa supporters want Kodjia back in the starting eleven as soon as possible, his role may very well be a substitute while he regains match fitness over the next few matches. Fellow striker Lewis Grabban also falls onto the depth chart, which sees a bit of congestion at the top of the pitch for Villa. This leads to a very interesting notion that Aston Villa could employ a tactic that sees two strikers up front sooner rather than later.