The Villa Appetiser: Aston Villa v Barnsley 2018
The last time we played at Villa Park, a 5-0 win set the standard that we now have to match, but Barnsley will have other ideas.
Fresh from holding Wolves to a 0-0 draw, Barnsley need to keep picking up points to ensure they don’t drift into relegation battle.
And we all remember what happened when Barnsley last visited Villa Park…
With Derby drawing against Bristol City on Friday night, Villa will know a home win will bring them within three points of second place.
4th in the league table with the 4th best home record.
Last five matches at home: W 3, D 2
19th in league table with 17th best away record.
Last five matches away: W 1, D 1, L 3
Steve Bruce on Cyrille Regis
“I was fortunate enough to know Cyrille, and I played against him many times.
“I remember as a young lad at Gillingham, we drew West Brom in the cup.
“I was a naive centre-half back then, and was pitched against Cyrille Regis. I came off, battered from pillar to post, thinking: ‘wow, he’s some player’.
“What he put up with and the way he handled and conducted himself – he did wonders for everyone, especially black players. He was instrumental.
“He was a genuinely good man, and the whole football world is shocked and saddened, particularly because the condition he was in.
“So many black players can look up to him. He was the way forward.
“Our condolences go out to his family. He will be greatly missed.”
Bruce on Barnsley
“It’s important that we put these runs together – these games are never easy.
“That’s the thing in the Championship. Out in the big wide world, people think it’s a given. It isn’t.
“I’ve got the utmost respect for Paul Heckingbottom – his team always mount a challenge.
“I’ve seen the video from last week and Wolves didn’t have a shot on goal against them. They’re not going to be a pushover.
“We’ve been playing well of late. The second half against Nottingham Forest is arguably the best we’ve played in a long while.
“We were in complete control of the game, and it was good to see.”
Paul Heckingbottom on Villa
“In terms of scoreline they did us over here [at Oakwell], but not in terms of performance.
“But that is the difference. We had similar against Derby here. And that’s why those two are right up there at the top.
“They have quality throughout their squad, they’re a really strong side without the ball and it doesn’t matter how they’re playing they’ve got goals in them.
“So we’re well aware that it’s going to be tough.”
22nd January 1972 – Villa 2 Barnsley 0
46 years ago, goals from Andy Lochhead and Bruce Rioch secured the points for Villa against Saturday’s opponents.
A crowd of over 30,000 watched this Division Three clash, and this match is particularly significant, as we’ll explain below…
One to Watch
Adam Hammill – He’s created more goalscoring chances (39) without providing one assist than any other Championship player this season.
Barnsley have won just four of their last 20 Championship away games
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
Having rejoined the Championship the season before, Barnsley suffered a 3-0 defeat at Oakwell in September against Villa.
That result, however, was something of blip in terms of this fixture’s history – it was Barnsley’s first defeat in four league meetings with Villa.
When it comes to home matches, things haven’t always worked out for Villa against Barnsley.
In this fixture last season, Just weeks after we had signed Hourihane from Barnsley, we lost 3-1 at home to Heckingbottom’s men, a particularly low point of the campaign.
As well as that, we’ve failed to win in our last three league matches against Saturday’s opponents at Villa Park. You have to go back to 1972 (the Memory Match mentioned above) for the last home win against Barnsley.
After overseeing their return to the Championship Paul Heckingbottom has done a fantastic job at Barnsley and continues to keep them competitive, demonstrated by their recent stalemate with league leaders Wolves.
As Bruce mentioned in his press conference, it’s results like Barnsley’s draw against Wolves that represent the competitiveness of the Championship, and it’s what Villa will need to watch out for.
In addition to that, our last Villa Park match saw us underestimate League One Peterborough.
While that was a completely different starting XI, we can’t afford for that complacency to creep in this weekend.
“What he put up with and the way he handled and conducted himself – he did wonders for everyone, especially black players. He was instrumental” – BRUCE ON REGIS
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
Barnsley had a good campaign last season as they continued the momentum of promotion back into the Championship, but despite a recent takeover, things have been more difficult this time around.
Since their 3-1 win at Villa Park last season, Barnsley have won just four of their last 20 Championship away games.
There have been worrying moments for Villa at times this season but the improvement over the last one can’t be denied – we’ve got 47 points after 27 games this season, compared to 2016-17’s 36.
Snodgrass has been taking the plaudits lately but on the opposite side of the pitch, we have reasons to be cheerful. Albert Adomah has been involved in nine goals in 10 league starts against Saturday’s opponents (six goals, three assists) and did of course score twice in the reverse fixture.
Birkir Bjarnason made an impressive cameo in the 1-0 win over Forest and may be in line to start after Whelan was forced off through injury in that game.
With Green and Lansbury likely to be in contention and Terry back in the starting lineup, improving squad depth is helping us look more like promotion contenders.
The automatic places should be the aim, and if we’re going to give ourselves the best chance of achieving that, we really need to be winning the game on Saturday.
Hopefully we utilise the same attacking approach this weekend as we did against Bristol City.
On another note, RIP Cyrille Regis. He will be greatly missed.
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