By Richard Wakefield

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Aston Villa’s F.A cup exploits were predictably cut short by Premier League Tottenham Hotspur. Only the Championship remains for Villa and a win against fellow West Midlands team Wolves could go a long way in making sure that the play-off dream doesn’t suffer the same fate as Villa’s cup run.

A familiar face will be in the oppositions dugout as Villa will face a Paul Lambert managed team for the first time since his departure from Villa Park. Wolves defied the odds to win away at Stoke last week, taking their form to a respectable three wins from their last five in all competitions.

Regardless of Villa meeting a former manager or not, the complexion of the club has changed massively with a new owner, manager, squad and most importantly attitude.

Looking up instead of looking down should be compulsory for Villa being in the Championship but three points aren’t easy to get in this league.

Here’s three ways of making it happen…

Molineux Blues

Despite only losing once in their last five games in all competitions, Wolves carry the shame of having the second worse home form in the whole championship only being beaten by Wigan. An indicator of why this torrid form exists could lie with the stat that they have conceded in their last ten home games; as well as conceding two or more goals in seven of them.

 

Unsurprisingly to many Villa fans, Paul Lambert hasn’t rectified this problem since his arrival at Wolves with The Wanderers only keeping three clean sheets in their last ten Championship games.

Although Villa are beginning to look a little lacklustre up front because of the ACON tournament, Bruce has more than enough quality in the ranks to attack the slow back line Wolves possesses.

Albert Adomah alone has the pace and technical ability to give Doherty a run for his money. Even Agbonlahor will look fast against Batth and Stearman; no promises can be made on what he’ll do once he’s past them though.

In With the New

All the way back in November Stevenage coach Darren Sarll predicted a big future for his young loan signing Harry McKirdy. Similarly, all the way back in 2012, thousands of Villa fans had high hopes for the young midfielders Ashley Westwood and Gary Gardner. Complaints about the two midfielders flood social media on a weekly basis but a stop-gap has thankfully been found in Aaron Tshibola to partner Jedinak in the middle of the park.

 

As we have seen before, away from home, Bruce prefers to play a midfield three or substitutes a central-midfielder late on in the game to add the required energy needed to see out a match. Grealish and McCormack are universally agreed to not be good enough at central midfield as their qualities suit further advanced positions.

Therefore, whether it be to add a bit of dynamism and energy late on, or to compliment Jedinak and Tshibola in midfield three, Harry McKirdy’s bright future needs to start from somewhere.

Scoring once in six starts for Stevenage and scoring a goal in his only U-23 game this season, it is easy to see why Darren Sarll rated McKirdy so highly. His goal against Mansfield Town for Stevenage was a brilliant solo run from his own half showing pace and the willingness to take the ball forward. Whilst his recent U-23 goal came against local rivals West Brom, showing that not even the occasion of a local derby is enough to phase him.

Obviously a long shot, but maybe youth is an alternative to the tired old options being used? Remember the use of Graham Fenton in a certain cup final?

Nightmare Returns

No, the boys from Austria aren’t here to kick us while we’re down, but a youngster from Portugal certainly is. Helder Costa showed everybody what he is capable of at Villa Park in Bruce’s first game. Scoring Wolves’ goal in a 1-1 draw, as well as being very unfortunate not to add to his tally.

 

The left-winger has scored six goals for Wolves this season and is their second highest goal scorer behind veteran David Edwards.

His blistering pace and dribbling ability would be too much for most defenders in this division, but it is utterly frightening when coming up against a slightly out of form Jordan Amavi. His performances against Leeds and Cardiff have done nothing to persuade his critics to think otherwise as his defensive frailties continue to shine.

Somebody in midfield will have to keep an eye out for Costa to help Amavi or there is a more controversial option…

Despite being linked with a move away, there may still be time for Aly Cissokho to make an impression by getting Villa over the line in what could be his last 90 minutes in claret and blue. He proved at the start of the season that although going forward he is incompetent, defensively he can be as solid as any other full back at Championship level.

UTV

Follow Richard on Twitter here: @_RichardAVFC

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3 COMMENTS

  1. David I really hope you are right about the incoming new players, and yes if Ayew is sold we may have 40 mil to spend, but I fear it will be at the end of the window and too late. However I do respect your opinion but sadly it hasn’t changed mine, and if we do loose tomorrow as I expect I see no way for us to even consider promotion this season. Hey we may get a surprise result and no one would be more pleased,

  2. Sadly I can see us loosing, I’m teed off now with hearing we are preparing an offer for this that and the other players, and we are looking at strikers, what still looking, over half way through the window now and no sign of new players, ok we have a keeper but as I see it nothing else on the horizon if we were cash strapped I might get it but we are cash rich or so they would like us to believe. Don’t want to hear any more about Lansbury I don’t see it happening. If we don’t sign at least 3 decent players this window and for me that should include Rhodes I think we are stuffed, we seem to be trying to sell a lot more than we are trying to sign, beggars belief to me I would have kept Gestede and not try to sell Ayew, instead I would have got shot of Flabby and McCormack.
    I have no confidence in Bruce or the board,and as for promotion Cloud 9

    • colin think a loss is on the cards tomorrow too,,, the lambert taylor and derby factors i feel will do for us
      and it would not suprise me if its 2 or 3 nil
      but i have confidence in bruce,,, he knows whats wrong and if we have to sell gestede and ayew then i have no problem with that
      the squad needs revamping and the players we are linked with have been generally what we need
      but we have to get them in,,,, and its proving tough,,,
      but i do think 3 or four transfers will take place,,,,,,
      everyone knows we have money and are ambitious ,,, we could have 40 mill to bring in if ayew is sold,,,,
      to bring in lansbury and players to make us very very competitive with a real chance of making the playoffs
      with a very strong side
      players need to make an impact,,, and we have too few capable of doing that on a regular basis
      and if bruce gets it right then players like mccormack and gabby could benefit with better service and the teams confidence should be much better
      just hope bruce can pull it off

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