Can we make it two?

After a much needed hard fought win against Derby County on Saturday Aston Villa face Bristol City tonight at Villa Park hoping for another 3 points.

James Chesters first half goal was enough to win the game and a better performance all round has given Villa fans something to smile about at least for now.

Bristol City havent won away from home in the Championship in 13 games. Sitting in 21st place on 33 points 4 places below Villa who will be looking to pile more misery on Lee Johnsons men.

Conor Hourihane maybe available for Steve Bruce but wont be risked. Scott Hogan is still out and Leandro Bacuna is banned for the next three games after his sending off on Saturday.

Expected Goals

Aston Villa-  Current goals per game- 1.0

ExG (per game)- 0.56

Bristol City- Current goals per game- 1.4

ExG (per game)- 0.68

ExG tonight- 1.24


With 18 goals this season Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham will need to be kept quiet by the Villa defence this evening with his strong finishing he is a real goal threat. However being caught offside is a bad habit for Abraham so Villa could use this to their advantage should they choose to.


Aston Villa 2-1 Bristol City

Compiled by @ThatGarateyjc

Preview: Aston Villa v Derby

Steve Bruce and his charges meet a Derby County side who are having a stop start season. The Rams sit 11th in the table and boast a decent record against teams in the bottom half of the table winning five and drawing and losing one and averaging 1.2 goals a game.

Craig Bryson and Jonny Russell are fit again for Steve McClaren and may come back into the side

Villa are still struggling and have not won since beating Burton Albion on Boxing Day. Confidence is low but an improved performance against top of the table Newcastle last Monday has given hope back into a team that has collected just two points from a possible thirty conceding 18 goals along the way. Reeling from the loss to injury of Scott Hogan, who will be out for 4-5 weeks with an ankle problem, Villa have Jonathan Kodija who will have a fitness test ahead of today’s game and Andre Green as the only proper goalscoring threats upfront with Agbonlahor injured and McCormack on loan at Forest and Gestede sold to Middlesborough in January. Is Bruce regretting those decisions?

Bruce is looking at free agents to add to his striking options with Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov being mentioned also former Blackburn defender Chris Samba is training with the club with a view to earning a deal.

Villa looked like a team who’s cohesion could be creeping back in and that can only be a good sign as in reality this looks to be the main issue. Steve Bruce has said this week that he has the personnel to play a 4-3-3 and when he has a fully fit squad to choose from I’m sure he’s correct  but at the moment this isn’t the case. He also said he has never played this system before so now is not the time to be experimenting. Today Villa will probably be a 4-3-2-1 with Kodija on his own upfront. Villa need to come out fast and get an early goal to try to gain momentum against McClaren’s men who aren’t great defensively either.

Villa scoring an average of a goal a game is not good and Hogan’s loss is bad timing given the need for goals and Kodija is a striker who is better on his own in all honesty. Villa have beaten Derby in all of the last four games in all competitions so are the omens good for Villa today? Let’s hope so as although Bruce is the man to get the club back up to the Premier League he doesn’t want to be the man who takes them down either.

Gareth Cooper


Aston Villa: Stopping the slide

As an Aston Villa fan getting relegated last season was probably the lowest point I thought we would experience but it seems this season is getting close, to close to the same dreadful fate. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying we will go down again but the way the team are playing is worrying and all looking very familiar once again.

Steve Bruce came in and we were full of hope but under no illusion as to the massive job he had on his hands but most of us thought with time things would improve. Indeed they did for the first few games a draw at home to Wolves followed by wins away at Reading and at home to Fulham. A derby day draw at Brum and a home win against lowly Blackburn and a hard fought draw at promotion hopefuls Brighton had us thinking we were on the road to recovery but since the win against Burton Villa haven’t won a game in ten in all competitions losing nine of those and drawing one conceding 17 goals and scoring just 5 in that time.

The first lost game against Cardiff came on the 2nd of January and even after all January signings had been completed games against Spurs, Wolves, and finally Brentford had all been lost. The rut has continued ever since then.

Bruce is clearly struggling to get theses group of players to execute exactly what he, not wants, but needs them to start doing. Lansbury is a good midfielder but he has come from a struggling Forest team which must have implications confidence wise. Issues with Grealish continue to surface, Alan Hutton is struggling but shows commitment.

So what’s the way forward? In the last 5 games 5 different formations have been used with too many goals conceded. 4-3-3,  5-3-2 (to try and shore up the leaks), 4-1-4-1, 4-2-3-1 and an adventurous 3-4-3 attacking set up which was quickly abandoned are formations which have all been used in the string of defeats.

This is not the way to install confidence in a team struggling to score goals let alone win games. The team look confused at what they are being asked to do week to week. We don’t know Bruce’s training  program throughout the week. Team shape, individual duties offensively and defensively, Set piece work is all very important and who am I to judge Bruce’s working style but I worry that even if all the important stuff is being worked on confidence is very low and have the players got it in them to drag themselves out of it?

There is a need to install some belief back into the side, Hogans injury is another low but with the new players adding to the quality that is already there Villa should be 10 places higher than they are.

Below is how I think Bruce should set up the team for the next few games to try to steady the ship.


Going to a 4-5-1 gives the team the stability that they need at this moment in time Jedinak or Lansbury can sit in front of the back four as that extra bit of protection whilst Hourihane and Bjarnsson/Grealish can get forward if the turnover of possession is quick enough. Taylor must play instead of Hutton I feel no disrespect to the latter but times a changing.


When confidence has come back into side a 3-5-2 can be Bruce’s go to formation. Villa must make use of Taylor and Amavi down the flanks especially as Jedinak is fit again he is defensively minded enough to cover if the attack breaks down. A back 3 of Chester, Baker and Elphick are mobile enough. Confident defending seems to have broken down and these three haven’t become bad defenders in 6 months. 

Summer 2017

Kodija and Hogan are not the sole answer to Villa’s goal scoring. A pacy, goal poaching striker is needed to complement the similarities that both Kodija and Hogan possess. Spending wisely come the summer is paramount and it will be interesting to see who Steve Bruce brings in to give us an indication of how Villa will play next season.

Gareth Cooper


Manchester City v AS Monaco 21 Feb 7:45pm UEFA Champions League

The first ever competitive meeting between a blossoming Monaco side and Manchester City looks set to be a good test for both sides. Monaco, who are currently top of Ligue 1, are a different prospect for Pep’s team to face compared to a year ago. Scoring 76 goals this season and with the talismanic Radamel Falcao scoring freely again confidence is high.

Javier Lardims charges were hammered 3-0 in Leverkusen last time out in the competition and will want to carry their league form into the Champions League.

City have not lost at home in the Champions league since losing to Juventus 1-2 in September of 2015 and should be favourites even if slightly to beat the men from the south of France.

Below shows how Toure has and will again tonight spread the ball to Sane and Silva. Whether it be shorter precise passes in between the lines or longer balls out wide and in behind Toure will be able to dictate should Monaco allow him to although Fabinho in Monaco’s midfield may have other ideas.

Another threat from City is not a new one. Below shows the front four of City’s attack and how they are so interchangeable when attacking that Aguero is often found out wide and this allows De Bruyne and Sane to run into the box and also to disguise a possible one-two between Aguero and Silva on the edge of the box for Aguero to score. ​

​Multiple options abound for City going forward. It’s the other way when defending City are vulnerable and with Falcao and Germain feeding from passing coming from an in form Moutinho, City need to be wary of committing to much in attack especially if the turnover of play happens in the middle of the pitch.

Expected goals in games in last 3 UEFA Champons League games: 

Manchester City- 0.66

Monaco- 0.76

Combined ExG- 1.42

My Prediction- 1-1


B04 v Atl. Madrid


Leverkusen will be without Calhanoglu who is suspended for the rest of season. Tah, and Bender are out. Dragovic should come in for Tah.

Fernandez and Tiago are out. So Saul should come in for the latter. Oblak and Juanfran are still missing.


Manchester City v AS Monaco


Jesus, Kompany and Gundogan all out. Toure may come in as he is now eligible. Sane or Sterling could start. Aguero to continue up front.

Jemerson suspended for Monaco. Raggi should play alongside Flik in defence as Andrea is a doubt as are Bakayoko, Carrillo and Boschillia.