The Villa Appetiser: Aston Villa vs Bolton 2017/18
After some early supporter pressure on Steve Bruce, a seven game unbeaten run topped off with three wins on the bounce, has given the Villa boss better foundations to attack the rest of the season.
Still, the Villa boss is only ever one game away from another sh*t storm, especially when that game is against the bottom of the table Bolton.
In recent years, when teams need a win, Villa have been a good team to play against, but surely Bolton are beyond such a task? They haven’t won yet this season.
They’ll no doubt be stubborn, with their two points coming away from home, so Villa may have to demonstrate some patience to get the three points they’d need to go into the international break on a optimistic high.
Bruce on Attacking
“I was delighted the way we played the other day [vs Burton] – the goals we scored, the football we’ve played.
“I saw the fourth goal again…and there was something like 20 passes before we stuck it into the back of the net. So they are playing very, very well.
“We look a threat at the top end of the pitch.
“We relied too heavily on Kodjia last time out. If he didn’t score, we didn’t score.
“It’s important to share the goals around – Hourihane has five, Onomah has two, Adomah has four.
“There are people chipping in with goals, which is vitally important.”
Bruce on Villa Atttiude
“It’s been a good week but we must finish it off.
“It’s been a good week but in this division you can’t gloat for long.
“Another game is upon us and it’s important that we don’t just think we will turn up and roll them over.
“Nobody can predict the Championship.
“They will want to come here and turn up on the big stage, and they still have some good players.”
Phil Parkinson the Psychologist
“I’m being a psychologist for me, the players, my staff, because it has been very, very difficult
“We can only concentrate on what we do on a game-to-game basis, it’s all we can do.
“We know how Villa are going to play, so that’s an advantage. So what a great place to go and get a result.
“Everyone will be expecting them to continue their great run but we might just surprise some people.”
“We look a threat at the top end of the pitch” – Steve Bruce on Villa
07 November 2009 – Aston Villa 5 v Bolton 1
A year after Martin O’Neill’s men beat the Blues 5-1 they repeated the trick against Bolton, in what is actually the last time Villa have beaten Bolton at Villa Park.
Bolton had both Zat Knight and Gary Cahill at centre-back.
Five different Villa players scored the goals – Ashley Young, Gabby Agbonlahor, John Carew, James Milner and Carlos Cuellar.
Villa – Last five matches at home: W 2, D 3, L 0
Bolton – Last four matches away: W 0 D 2, L 3
One to Watch
Karl Henry – Bolton picked up the free agent the other week, after the transfer embargo on Bolton was lifted. Henry had been training with the Baggies for the past five weeks.
The former Wolves and Stoke City tough-tackling midfielder may be 34-year-old, but Bolton need some steel to help prevent their decline.
A wild card, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
Villa haven’t beaten Bolton in their three trips to Villa Park. In fact, they’ve lost the last two games.
While Bolton have been next to useless on their own patch, the fact they have mustered a couple of away draws suggests they will at least set up to be hard to beat.
Darren Pratley and Karl Henry will probably start at the heart of the midfield to give them a harder core to try to stifle Villa.
If Villa get complacent, it could make the crowd edgy and end up a frustrating afternoon for Bruce’s boys.
Oh, one more thing. You know who Phil Parkinson is, don’t you? The Bolton boss managed Bradford City when they beat Villa in the 2013 League Cup semi-final.
“We know how Villa are going to play, so that’s an advantage” – Phil Parkinson, Bolton Boss
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
If Villa score early, with Bolton’s frail psychology at the moment should open up the proverbial floodgates.
Bruce has found a settled first XI and it should only get better with more games, with three games under their belt, it’s perhaps a good time to play Bolton. It’s a fixture they can get on the front foot and try a few things out.
Across the history of this fixture it’s been fairly balanced, but Villa do have the overall upper hand and this hopefully will be one of the more easier encounters.
You’d expect Jonathan Kodjia to grab his first goal of the season, after he has had a few games to warm up now.
Bolton have two points from 10 games and a minus 17 goal difference, so they are very much dead men walking.
While Villa can’t afford to be complacent, they should be putting Bolton to bed comfortably.
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- Lewis Rymond is currently on holiday