I think Dean Smith will get it right against Wolves tomorrow because the shackles are finally off. Since the start of the season, Smith has shown his inexperience in this League. As a Villa fan, and as a result of last year’s success, Smith has put himself under immense pressure. Entering this season, neither Smith nor the squad was ready for the Premier League, and this is why we find ourselves in the relegation zone. Smith realises games are running out and this will (hopefully) encourage him to play the football that he showed us at Brentford.
Things that Smith got right
The relegation mini-league table has us in 2nd place, thus showing that there are things that Smith got right. I know this is stating the obvious, but if we continue to outperform 3 other teams, we will be safe.
Last night’s loss by Watford was an excellent result for Villa as this was a game that Pearson would have been targeting to take 3 points from. By not even gaining a point from the game has confirmed Watford as serious relegation candidates. A zero point return since restart for Hammers, Bournemouth and Norwich also verify their status as relegation candidates. Aston Villa has a two-point return during this period, and this is what Dean Smith has got right. We have this advantage because Smith is managing to scrape a point from a game which our competition is proving unable to match.
Things that Smith got wrong
To keep this post to a readable length I will try and stick to just key points that Smith got wrong. Our losses are due to, and aside from losing to better quality teams; a combination of schoolboy errors, selection, tactics and substitutions. We conceded a shambolic goal to Newcastle as a result of schoolboy defending. We do not have enough width on the pitch because we often play the wrong players in certain positions. Sitting back in a game with the purpose of trying to avoid losing is what I expect from Steve Bruce but it is not what I expect from Dean Smith. We lost to a better team in Chelsea but we did not give ourselves a chance to nick a point because we made defensive substitutions and not attacking ones.
So Wolves tomorrow
Wolves are sitting in 6th and are pushing for a Champions League qualification so, on paper, tomorrow is a win for them. But will Dean Smith get it right against Wolves or will be again rue missed chances. I think Smith has finally got the shackles off and tomorrow is the game for Smith to get it right. Due to the FA cup fixtures, there are only 2 teams from the relegation mini-league playing this weekend. Taking all 3 points is an opportunity to put some extra pressure on the others.
Team selection to get it right
To get 3 points, we must pick a team to win, and this is what Dean Smith must do to get it right against Wolves. Douglas Luiz has been our best player in the last few games, and therefore he must start. McGinn is not up to the pace of the Premier League yet, and he should make way for Conor Hourihane. Elmo scored against the Toon, and for this, he should keep the shirt. This will also give us more balance the right as Konsa is not providing enough width. I am not sure what formation we finished with against Newcastle, but we looked good and had both Davis and Samatta on the pitch. We need to repeat this, which will mean dropping ElGhazi and Trezeguet.
My Starting 11 against Wolves
As I said, I am not sure what formation we ended up with against the Toon, but I would like to see something like this against Wolves.
The important stuff
TV Channel: BT Sport 1
Aston Villa & Wolves team announcements on avfcvillablog.com: 11:30am (UK), 3:30am (Vancouver)
Program start on BT Sport 1: 12 midday (UK), 4am (Vancouver)
Kick-off: 12:30pm (UK), 4:30am (Vancouver)
Result Prediction: 1 – 0
Match Odds: Aston Villa 7/2, Draw 13/5 Wolves 8/11
Relegation Odds: Norwich 1/50, Villa 4/11 Bournemouth 2/5, West Ham 11/8, Watford 3/1, Brighton 20/1