PREVIEW | Aston Villa -v- Wednesday

PREVIEW | Aston Villa -v- Wednesday

Topsy turvy Wednesday strike again.

Wednesday were certainly not at their best on Tuesday night against Millwall, but the importance of victory to Carlos Carvalhal and his team cannot be understated.

Millwall looked half the side that this preview had suggested they could be: poor in possession, offering a very predictable ‘lump-it-and-see’ approach to attacking.

They sat deep from minute one – something I did correctly predict – but their shape was largely terrible.

That said, Wednesday also looked a mid-table side. Laborious on the ball, prone to mistakes at the back and, with the exception of Barry Bannan, lacking ideas.

Of course, we were all relieved to see Jordan Rhodes score for the first time in 23 games: a remarkable statistic that others in this squad would be ridiculed for.

Morgan Fox and Adam Reach were dependable down the Owls left, with Fox providing numerous well-placed crosses into the Millwall penalty area. One found Reach for the opener, while a second was headed onto the post by Rhodes. There were others.

I look forward to his bemusing exclusion from the match day squad at Villa Park.

Loovens is one of the few players to survive from the pre-Chansiri days

We also have to talk about Glenn Loovens.

I sincerely hope that his performance was an indicator of poor match fitness and nothing more. Tom Lees bailed him out on a number of occasions and almost rescued his partner for the Millwall goal after Loovens had missed his tackle.

We’ve all known for a while that Loovens is making his long goodbye, his excellent reading of the game is no longer enough to make up for his ever-aging legs.

Let’s hope that JvA settles quickly and learns enough from his captain to be able to take his place in the side permanently for the start of next season.

 

 

Villa have five wins and one draw in their last seven games, losing only to Wolves.

They sit in fifth place in the table and remain unbeaten at Villa Park. Only Derby and our neighbours have conceded fewer home goals.

On Wednesday, they took a comfortable 2-0 victory away from Deepdale.

Robert Snodgrass was involved in both goals as Steve Bruce’s side created numerous chances in an efficient display.

Bruce praised the work of his back-line too, who managed a consecutive league clean sheet.

“My two centre-backs and my goalkeeper were immaculate all night.

“With the chances we’ve created, it could have been more comfortable, but overall it was a really decent performance.”

James Chester opened the scoring from a Snodgrass corner before the provider became scorer, neatly slotting home from eighteen yards.

Snodgrass celebrates his second goal (Birmingham Mail)

Before that, Villa took a credible draw away from St Andrews in the second city derby.

Villa are typically Bruce – efficient and effective – in both attack and defence. With only 21 goals from fifteen games, they are not among the division’s free-scorers. And yet, only Cardiff have conceded fewer goals.

This is partially down to a solid back-line with enviable Premier League experience. James Chester (50 PL appearances) and John Terry (492 PL appearances) are Villa’s only two ever-present outfielders this season.

Bruce utilises a 4-4-2 or variants of, often with a striker and advanced midfielder. Most of their goals come from midfield: Albert Adomah and Conor Hourihane both have five apiece, with Snodgrass and Spurs loanee Josh Onomah having netted twice.

Glenn Whelan is likely to make only his second league appearance against Wednesday: the first coming shortly after his transfer to Stoke in 2008.

 

 

LAST 5 Millwall (H) Barnsley (H) Derby (A) Bolton (A) Leeds (H)
WEDNESDAY W 2-1 D 1-1 L 0-2 L 1-2 W 3-0

 

LAST 5  Preston (A) Brum (A) Fulham (H) Wolves (A) Bolton (H)
VILLA W 2-0 D 0-0 W 2-1 L 0-2 W 1-0

 

HEAD 2 HEAD WEDNESDAY WINS VILLA WINS DRAWS
  52 66 17

 

LAST MEETING

 

Villa 2-0 Wednesday

11 March 2017, Villa Park, Att: 31, 143

With the obvious exceptions of Vincent Sasso and Sam Winnall, it is entirely likely that the same team who took to the Villa Park pitch in March will feature again here.

Poor Wednesday discipline blighted the performance, with Sasso sent off and Carlos also sent to the stands for his reaction to the dismissal.

Jonathan Kodjia netted either side of the sending off, but not before Sasso had a goal chalked off for a more than questionable offside.

Jack Hunt was also denied a penalty after he was brought down in the Villa box.

You can read JP’s ramble here.

 

 

CARVALHAL’S COHORTS

 

Morgan Fox came into the side against Millwall and was among the standout Wednesday performers, and should retain his place at full-back, behind Adam Reach.

Glenn Loovens will captain the side again, but cannot afford to rely on Tom Lees bailing him to the extent he did on Tuesday.

Jack Hunt could return at right back, while Kieran Lee is in line to return to midfield.

Carlos’ biggest conundrum lies up front: surely the physicality of Fletcher will match up best against Terry and Chester? But that means dropping Rhodes? And surely not Hooper? Can he play all three?

Let’s hope whoever is selected can put flesh on the bones, or whatever.

WESTWOOD

HUNT

LEES

LOOVENS

FOX

WALLACE

LEE

BANNAN

REACH

HOOPER

FLETCHER

 

KEY PLAYERS

Bannan: vital cog

 

BARRY BANNAN – Looks excellent with the ball at the minute, but cannot afford to rest easy against his former club.

We’ve seen previously that he has a tendency to over-stretch against former employers. If he can keep his head and do the defensive parts of his game properly, Wednesday have a better chance of limiting Villa’s opportunities.

This includes forgetting his needless chasing of lost balls that almost exclusively result in a little ego-boosting rendition of We’ve got Bannan.

On the front foot, he looks as sparkly as ever: quick turns, driving runs, demanding the ball, crisp passes.

ROBERT SNODGRASS – Not really sure where it went wrong for Snodgrass: at the time, a £10m move to West Ham looked to be a terrific move for both player and team.

He flitted in and out of their League Cup side and made a few PL appearances, nothing more.

His delivery is excellent, he has the odd trick, he’s comfortable hugging the line and cutting inside.

 

 

THE BETTING BOX: 5 OF THE BEST

 

BET Wednesday WIN Barnsley WIN DRAW
Rhodes FGS Lee FGS
BEST ODDS 5/2 11/10 13/5 8/1 Evs
BOOKIES

HUGH’S VERDICT:

One of the most difficult trips of the season will not be welcome just as Wednesday look to begin their recovery.

Villa are in good form and are yet to taste defeat at Villa Park. Stranger things have happened, but Wednesday looked very much a mid-table side against Millwall on Tuesday and, without significant improvement, the sell-out allocation can travel with hope rather than expectation.

Too often this season, the players have let the Head Coach down.

This fixture would be the perfect time to play to their potential – individually and collectively – and rally around the beleaguered boss.

VERDICT: They won’t. 2-0 Villa.

Hugh
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: owlsalive@gmail.com
Twitter: @OwlsAlive and @hugh_wragg

Images: SWFC, unless stated. Line up images: Getty.


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