The Villa Appetiser: Bolton v Aston Villa 2018
It’s amazing how quickly things can change in football.
We mentioned in the preview of the QPR game that if Villa didn’t win that game, the Wolves result would be undermined, and unfortunately that’s exactly what happened. Our momentum has been dented.
Cardiff’s relentless winning run has made the automatic places look just too far away to catch, but stranger things have happened.
Still, there’s still a good number of games to go, and our next tough test is an away trip to a resurgent Bolton side…
20th in the league table with the 17th best home record.
Last five matches at home: W 2, D 2, L 1
3rd in league table with 4th best away record.
Last five matches away: W 4, L 1
Phil Parkinson on Villa’s loss to QPR
“People say it’s a shock – but I’m not so sure about that.
“QPR can beat anyone on their day when they get their best 11 on the pitch but that’s the kind of result you get at this stage of the season. Everything matters, every single point.
“I went to the game and they played well. After QPR had gone 2-0 up Villa struggled to respond.”
and on Villa
“I think the onus has got to be on Villa because of their ambition. Top six is the minimum requirement.
“They had a great result against Wolves and that was a great Championship match to watch but they couldn’t reproduce it against QPR. The other teams have won around them so there’s pressure.
“There was definitely a flatness about the place on Tuesday night, whereas you’d imagine it would have been bouncing on Saturday.
“But that’s football, isn’t it? You get the highs and lows. With Cardiff playing Sunday they will want three points.”
Bruce on QPR defeat and upcoming schedule
“I think mentally we weren’t quite at it on Tuesday. We couldn’t get to those heights after Wolves after the euphoria and the atmosphere.
“We weren’t mentally right, and perhaps physically not, either. We have to do better and have to go and get a victory before the break.
“We’ve got 15 or so players going away at this time of year, which is ridiculous. James Chester has to go to China. Neil Taylor would have too but for injury.
“We’ve got a couple of weeks off then eight games in April. At the business end of the season, it’s something we could do without.”
and on Bolton
“They looked dead and buried at one point this season, but they’re not now. They’ve done well.
“That said, they’re still fighting for their lives and in my experience that makes it very difficult.
“They’ve got a sprinkling of good talent in their team now and got a good result at Sheffield United last week.
“It’ll be physical, but let’s try and get to the heights that we did last Saturday.
“If we do that, it’ll be ok.”
This season, villa have won 10 away matches – as many as we’ve won in the previous three seasons combined
5th March 2011 – Bolton 3 Villa 2
Goals from Darren Bent and Marc Albrighton were not enough to grab the victory the last time we lost away at Bolton.
An 86th minute winner from Ivan Klasnic secured the points for Bolton, who also scored twice through ex-Villa man Gary Cahill.
One to Watch
Sammy Ameobi – The former Newcastle man has chipped in with important goals for Bolton this season, and scored in their last televised game – a surprise home win over Bristol City.
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
It just didn’t go Villa’s way on Tuesday, not helped by Bruce’s mistake of not freshening up a few positions, something he admitted himself to be a mistake. We didn’t start the game too badly, but once QPR scored, there was a sense that it wasn’t going to be our night.
There’s no time for Villa to fell sorry for themselves, though. An away trip to Bolton beckons, against a team growing in confidence as they fight to ensure Championship survival.
Fans will remember Phil Parkinson as the man who masterminded Bradford City’s League Cup victory against Villa in the 2012/13 season, and he’s done a good job at Bolton. He managed to get the club out of League One at the first time of asking – despite a transfer embargo.
Despite a tough start, Bolton have shown they deserve to stay in the Championship, which incidentally is what Parkinson claimed the performance the last time we met demonstrated (a narrow 1-0 win for Villa thanks to a Kodjia penalty).
Having lost to Preston in the last home game, Bolton will be hoping to bounce back against Villa. Since they lost their first five home games this season, Saturday’s opponents have not lost back-to-back league games.
They’ve lost just two of their last 13 games at home in the league, and picked up two decent results in their last two games – draws away at Sheffield Wednesday and Reading.
As well as that, in their last televised Sky game, Bolton won at home against play-off hopefuls Bristol City…
The pressure is on Villa. Failure to win here and it’s pretty much bye-bye automatic promotion.
“We’ve got 15 or so players going away at this time of year, which is ridiculous” – BRUCE ON the international break
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
After disappointing defeats, Villa have generally responded well this season – just think back to the Brentford loss on Boxing Day.
Look back further through history and our record against Bolton is particularly encouraging. We’ve failed to score just once out of our last 20 league matches against them, which happened way back in 2006.
There’s an incredible statistic regarding our away form. This season, we have won 10 away matches. What makes it even more impressive is that that’s as many as we’ve won in the previous three seasons combined!
In terms of the opposition, Bolton have struggled against teams in the top six, recording just five points from an available 27 this season.
It will also be interesting to see how James Bree does at left-back, and perhaps on top of his inclusion there will be others helping to ‘refresh’ the team after the mid-week defeat.
Like Bruce has said in his press conferences, there’s still points to play for. Significant improvement over Tuesday’s display is needed, but if we get back to our normal performance levels, we should be able to get the three points.
Hopefully we can get back to winning ways and then cross our fingers for a favourable result the following day between Derby and Cardiff.