Villa Blog

Aston Villa Game Week 25 Preview

The relentless drive for TV money by Sky and other media companies means it is time for the Aston Villa game week 25 preview and a look at the mini-league. There appears to be no end to football on TV these days. I genuinely cannot recall a day when I haven’t been able to watch some football. I did think that tonight was going to be a footballing night off for the Mrs. However, I was wrong, as I discovered the Europa league is on. Man Utd, Spurs and Arsenal are all in action this evening if we want some entertainment.

But, the game I will be watching is the one between our PL opponents on Sunday; Leicester City. Leicester have an away leg against Slavia Prague. I love Prague, I worked there for about 3 years and had a wonderful time so I hoping for a Czechmate. It would be helpful if Leicester has a tough game and some travel disruption on the way home. That said, playing in Prague on Thursday night followed by a 2-hour flight home is not ideal preparation for a game on Sunday. By the way, the kick-off time has been changed to accommodate the TV schedule. It is now 14:05 kickoff as opposed to the previously scheduled 14:00 kickoff. An extra 5 minutes to squeeze in a few more ads to the post-match discussion of the earlier match between Hammers and Spurs.

Game Week 25 Matches

There are 11 games to enjoy over the coming days with 10 from game week 25. The EPL has also scheduled an extra game (Leeds v Saints) to be played next Tue evening, this is a game that was postponed during game week 18. Of the 11 games, there are 8 games which have teams competing in our midtable mini-league. And two of these 8 games are 6 pointers with each team from the mini-league (Wolves v Leeds & Leeds v Saints).

Game week 25 fixtures

Liverpool v Everton

There are some great fixtures this game week with Liverpool hosting Everton the pick of the bunch. That’s the 5:30pm game on Saturday and I will be watching it for entertainment and out of interest. Liverpool has lost their last 3 games while Everton has two losses and a draw. Both teams are on poor runs with each needing points for their respective pushes for European qualification. From a Villa perspective, I want Liverpool to win this game and I expect them to do just that. However, will Villa be able to exploit my anticipated Everton loss? Since the halfway stage, game 19, Villa and Everton have scored the same number of points. We need to start outscoring Everton if we want to realise our Europen dream.

Prediction: 3-0

Midtable mini-league

Wolves v Leeds

I could be wrong, but I don’t see Leeds finishing ahead of Villa this season. But the mini-league is very close, and we only have a 4 point advantage over Leeds. With Leeds playing twice this game week they could possibly overtake us in the PL table come Tuesday evening. They are a good team, and we need to be wary of them. As for Wolves, again, I don’t expect them to finish above us as we have a 9 point lead over them and 2 games in hand. Therefore to keep both teams a safe distance away from us, I think a draw in this game is the ideal outcome. It is not just the ideal outcome; it is also the outcome I expect with Wolves and Leeds sharing the points.

Prediction 1-1

Southampton v Chelsea

Saints look like they may get relegated from the mid-table mini-league and join the bottom half teams. Since beating Sheffield United on Dec 13th, they have only won once from 12 PL games. They have drawn 3, all of which were in December and have lost their last 6 games. Quite bizarrely, their single league win from the last 12 league games was against Liverpool. In contrast, Chelsea is getting better and better since Tuchel replaced Frank. Following a draw in his opening game, Tuchel has guided Chelsea to 4 straight wins. I have no doubt that this will be extended to 5 straight wins on Saturday.

Prediction 0-2

Hammers v Spurs

Yes, I appreciate you will all be rooting for Karen’s and Eve’s boys and hoping they get the win. But we need to focus on Villa and not be distracted by the two lovely lady directors at West Ham. We really need Spurs to win this. Hammers lie 6 points ahead of us albeit we have 2 games in hand. They have also outscored us 7-4 in points gained since GW19. They are winning too many games and I do not like how they are extending their advantage over us.

We need Jose to sort out their defence and to stop conceding silly goals. (I can understand why Konsa is linked with a 60m transfer to Spurs in the summer). Maybe this is the game that Bale justifies his 500k+ a week pay packet. Spurs won 4-1 away in the Europa which will hopefully give them the momentum to take 3 points on Sunday. I think Hammers are due a beating and I think the time has come.

Prediction: 1-2

Arsenal v Man City

Arsenal host the Champions elect and will see all 3 points heading up the M6 on Sunday evening. The gulf in class between these two teams is enormous, and I can’t see anything but a fairly big win for City. This would be great for Villa as The Gunners are only 2 points behind us in the PL table, although we have 2 games in hand.

Prediction 0-3

Brighton v Palace

Palace is another team facing relegation from the midtable mini-league and down to the bottom half teams. With Zaha out injured, they are showing their frailties. I like Eze for Palace, but he is not yet able to carry the team to victory. As we know, Brighton can be a difficult team to breakdown and nor do they score too many. Although Palace does not have Emi Martinez in goal, I think Roy is a canny manager and will set his team up not to lose this game, so I anticipate this to be a scoreless bore.

Prediction 0-0

Leeds v Southampton

My second review of Leeds and Southampton this game week so you have an idea how I feel about these teams. I fully expect Leeds to increase the pressure on Hasenhuttl and win this encounter by a few goals. This will not be a good result for us. If my earlier prediction of a Wolves v Leeds draw comes is right then a win at home to the Saints could lift Leeds to 36 points and potentially level on points with Villa.

Prediction 3-1

Aston Villa v Leicester City

This game is causing all sorts of problems with my thinking. At times I think this is a nightmare of a fixture for us considering our lack of consistency and dip in form. Then, I think this is the perfect game for Dean Smith to show the PL what Villa is all about. If Villa turn up and play our attacking brand of football and our players play the way we know they can, this could be a very decisive game week.

I started writing this Leader a few hours ago and took a break to get dinner for the kids. Earlier I said that I was going to watch the Leicester game in the Europa. I have now watched a fairly boring 0-0 draw and Leicester played a full-strength team. Vardy was substituted on 64 mins and Maddison on 76 minutes. They are quite early substitutions (I am used to DS timings) and will have given these two key players a little less exertion to recover from by Sunday. Regardless, there was absolutely nothing to scare me.

Team Selection v Leicester

Our team selection is going to cause some debate on the blogs between now and Sunday. The calls for changes were there before the Brighton game and given our performance in that game I expect more calls for changes. Unfortunately, we are forced to make a change at RB as Matty Cash has pulled his hamstring. I would choose to replace him with Guilbert but he is plying his trade in France now. Elmo is more or less guaranteed to start but I would actually move Konsa to RB and start Engels alongside Mings as the CB pairing.

With a forced change, I think the likelihood of Deano making tactical changes is reduced. So much so that I expect our normal team to be given another chance before changes are made. If we are poor against Leicester then I can see Smith making changes for our following game away to Leeds. But against Leicester, I think we will see a front 5 of Grealish, Barkley, McGinn, Traore and Watkins. Doug Luiz will be in behind them and a back 4 of Elmo, Konsa, Mings and Targett and the best GK in the PL starting between the sticks.

As a Villa fan, I do have a pair of claret & blue specs. And I tend to wear them when I am writing Leader Blogs about Villa. As such, I am looking at this game as the one where Dean Smith shows the Premier League exactly what we are made of. We will win this game having put in an excellent performance and Ross Barkley will be in the mix for MOTM. Also, Ollie Watkins will add to his goals tally.

Prediction: 2-0

What The Bookies Say

The bookies don’t have their claret & blue specs on and have Leicester as 7/5 favourites for the win. But they do have Villa priced at 15/8 so it is very close and so a tough game to call. Maybe the draw is the bet to make but this is a much longer 5/2. This all means the bookies haven’t a fcuken clue who will win but they expect goals. That means an exciting game on Sunday afternoon.

And The Other Games

There are 3 other games for us this weekend each has a bearing on relegation. First up is Burnley v Baggies and a win for the home team may well prove to be a big nail in the Baggies coffin. I think Big Sam has bought well in Jan and they are a better team than what he inherited. Mind you, that isn’t saying much as they really were dreadful. I feel this is an absolute must win for Big Sam. But as most teams in the PL have experienced, Burnley on their patch is a very difficult fixture. I am going for Burnley to continue their fine form with a 1-0 win.

Fulham host the Blades on Saturday night and I can’t see anything but a Fulham win. Blades are weak, Fulham play some nice football and should be too strong for them. 1-0 to Scott Parker.

To wrap it up Man Utd welcome Steve Bruce back to Old Trafford and will win this game 3-0. Bruce will obviously say there are positives to be taken from the second half in which they only conceded 1 goal. No doubt fault will also lie with the Toon away fans who were very quiet during the game and didn’t give the players the support they deserve.

UTV

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74 Responses

  1. Vancouvervillan

    Reading a report from Shearer & Dublin, apparently they were shocked how much room we gave James Maddison on Sunday. I know in the past I’ve been very critical of Luiz and he stepped up to the plate 1st half of this season, but I said Sunday where was he ?, pundits seeing it too.
    We know midfield has been overrun now a good 3 or 4 games in a row (since 2nd half against Burnley) and to me clearly the issue is not just Barkley off form. Luiz is supposed to be the true DM, okay McGinn is sitting next to him in the two, but I see no urgency in him lately. I think it was pretty obvious to stifle Leicester we needed to sit on Maddison and keep him quite. We failed to do that.
    I find it strange Luiz & McGinn (our best player on Sunday) venture forward at the same time and leave us so exposed while our no.10, Barkley, with the license to do just that is totally ineffective. They can’t all play as the no.10 !

    I would have thought this easy to solve, out of the 2 in the formation, the DM stays deep to manage oppositions AMF & McGinn is the box to box with some license.
    Barkley needs dropping, such a shame Hourihane is not still available, oh the irony, we’ve constantly asked Hourihane to play effectively as a DM for us when clearly he’s much more effective as an attacking MF (see Swansea success) and now we start an ineffective AMF, our DM no longer sits and protects and our former AMF is now asked to play box to box from deep with no help from in front or behind.

    Who cares who leaked Jack’s injury !, our MF is in turmoil and constantly out worked physically and tactically.
    Sort it out Mr Smith !

  2. Vancouvervillan

    Based on that I just think we need more energy from the off. The usual starters way too comfortable. I’d stick McGinn back to no.10 role and have Sanson starting with Luiz. If that’s not injecting any energy then bring Ramsey on sooner. Trezeguet got to start on the right if Elmo playing RB. At least we had a press, runs made and more support for Ollie with Trezeguet involved.

    Leicester started much brighter but shocking how much space Luiz gave them in front of our defense. Not for the first time we just didn’t start with any energy, got to change that. Watching 1st goal again, Martinez unlucky but no midfielder at all challenging Maddison, none of the three in sight.

    Really disappointing performance.

  3. Vancouvervillan

    The side needs to evolve, recent results should tell him its time to change up the starting midfield. Way more energy from Ramsey, Sanson & Trezeguet

  4. Vancouvervillan

    2nd best by far. This one touch and flick stuff is so frustrating when we can’t keep the ball, there’s a time and place for that. Barkley & Luiz have allowed them so much space.
    I’d be tempted to get SJM up in no.10 role and take Barkley off, maybe Nakamba or Sanson on for Barkley. Trezeguet for Traore asap please.

  5. Vancouvervillan

    I wonder if Jack has been playing with thus injury last couple of games? He has been off form, particularly with his set piece deliveries.

  6. Vancouvervillan

    Well some wanted rotation and we have done okay in past without Jack, at times. Players will just have to step up and show us. It probably screws up Rodgers plans somewhat as well.
    Nothing to lose, some will have a real chance to prove themselves next few weeks.

  7. Vancouvervillan

    Okay just checked it’s Kaine Kesler Hayden so he’s the RB sub I presume, thought I hadn’t heard of Hayden before.

  8. Vancouvervillan

    Morning all
    So no Jack then 🙄
    Chuck & Hayden on the bench, no Engles, seems there’s maybe a few more injuries.
    Not starting Trezeguet a concern for me, hope Elmo is not overrun

  9. HenleyVillain

    Been enjoying watching Coventry. This afternoon I shall transfer my allegiance to Sheffield Wednesday. On Tuesday I shall be cheering on Norwich.

  10. Vancouvervillan

    I guess we’ll know pretty soon if Jack is injured or not, fingers crossed.

    If it is a stress fracture to the shin, i’m pretty sure it was a shin problem last time he was injured for a lengthy period. Perhaps it’s time the club insisted on him using some full length, proper shin pads and socks. He’s our most valuable asset, to allow this stupid and frankly arrogant schoolboy “I’ll wear what i want” attitude over this to continue is mind boggling with an asset worth 120 + million.

  11. Vancouvervillan

    Good post again mate, I’m liking the mini league tracking but I do want us to be above that midtable inconsistency.
    Typical, a good season and I’m seeing visions of grandeur 😆

    Leicester game is yet another where I’m thinking a good performance & 3 points would lay down yet another marker. I seem to be thinking that every week lately. Whilst it’s good to want more sucess I do wonder if I’m expecting too much, afterall, simply being no where near the bottom 3 should be enough, but we’re so close and the pressure is off.

    I think it would be a mistake to start Engles and move Konsa over. I’m concerned Engles would be easily done with Leicester’s quick counter attacking game with balls over the top for Barnes or Vardy, plus the Mings/Konsa pairing has been outstanding so far with numerous clean sheets.
    I think its odds on Elmo will start and id like to see Kessler on the bench in case the pace is too much for Elmo. I don’t see Elmo lasting the full 90 minutes either.
    I also think with Elmo starting we need to start Trezeguet in front of him. Trez offers way more energy, work rate & defensive responsibility than Traore and previously the Egyptian connection has worked well for us. I think that energy on the wing would also benefit Barkley & Watkins game.
    Traore was poor last game, so an easy change for me and one that doesn’t involve too much defensive change.

    Love to see us get all 3 points, we’re more than capable on our day.