After a little over 3 months away from football. A new mini-season starts on Wednesday, June 17th with Aston Villa hosting Sheffield United. The match kicks off at 6pm, and the game is to be broadcasted live on Sky. After the disappointment of not competing before the lockdown. Having witnessed some poor individual and team performances. I am really looking forward to starting afresh. It will be a short season of only 9 league games. Culminating with 3 teams dropping down to the Championship. Villa has a little advantage over the other relegation candidates. We have a game in hand. So we have 10 games to try and accumulate the 12 to 15 points necessary to avoid the drop.
Hard Work & Lessons Learned
I am hoping that Smith, the coaches and the players have worked hard during their 3 months off. Be ready to hit the ground running and get some early points on the board. This time last year Dean Smith had us firing on all cylinders and on a 10-game winning run. Let’s hope he gets the Midas touchback.
Last week Douglas Luiz said, The forwards are working on their finishing. The midfielders are focusing on positional marking. And the defenders on man-marking and important clearances. so I think that it’s all about specifics for each player and their respective positions. All sensible stuff and hopefully we will see the benefits on the pitch. Particularly so, with the man-marking and important clearance training. I think we can all agree that we didn’t finish off too well in that department before lockdown.
There are a few new rule changes from last season too. The new substitution rules are the ones that I am most worried about. Teams are now allowed 9 substitutes on the bench and can use 5 subs during a game. I think this will really favour the stronger teams. They have the strength in depth to use this rule to their advantage. Being able to rest players will be much needed as any two league games will be 3 full days max.
I can’t help but think (with envy) what the Man City bench will look like with 9 players sitting on it. The other big change is that supporters are not allowed to attend games. All games will be broadcasted live on TV. I really don’t like the idea of this but I will hold judgement until I see a few games. However, given a choice between no football and football with no fans. I think I will vote for the football with no fans.
I have read that our goalkeepers will not include Heaton. He is still injured, but I can’t find any updates on the fitness of Wesley. So I assume he too is still injured. John McGinn will be back and is playing in the preseason friendly game against the Baggies this weekend. McGinn returning to the Villa 1st team could be like signing a new 50m midfielder. It could be the catalyst to our survival. Samata was starting to look like a good signing before lockdown. It is important for us that he continues where he left off and gets on the scoresheet early in this campaign.
Lots of negativity about Villa
There is a lot of negativity about Villa from our fans. This is understandable considering the run we had in early 2020. But looking at the teams we are fighting with for relegation none of them are looking too sharp. Only two teams (Bournemouth & Southampton) of the bottom 8, when we stopped playing football had won more than 1 of their last 6 games and that was only two wins each.
It has been a tough few months for everyone, with what is going on in the world. We closed off football in March and Villa ended on a downer. It is difficult to look through the troubles and see light at the end of the tunnel. However, we have a new 10 game mini-season with a massive prize at the end. If we manage to get about 4+ wins and a couple of draws. Then Dean Smith will have managed to deliver the results we need. He did similar last season and hopefully, he can do the same again during this coming mini-season.
Up the Villa, I can’t wait for the return of football and let’s hope for 3 points against the Blades which would lift us out of the drop zone and into 16th place in the table.