The Villa Appetiser: Aston Villa v Middlesbrough (Championship Play-Off Second Semi-Final) 2018
After a great result on Saturday, Villa have an important advantage, but we’re not there yet.
It will be a different game at Villa Park, but with a sold out crowd backing the team, we’ve got every chance of getting through to the big final.
It was somewhat surprising to win the game via a setpiece given Pulis’ strength when it comes to those situations (both attack and defence). Not even the use of Boro branded towels could help them breach the Villa defence on Saturday.
Not even the use of Boro-branded towels for throw-ins helped them.
You get the feeling it will be more of the same this evening.
The job’s only half-done in our first-ever play-off campaign…our money’s on a 0-0, but any first goal could cause a big swing in the tie.
4th in the league table with the 3rd best home record.
Last five matches at home: W 3, D 1, L 1
5th in league table with 7th best away record.
Last five matches away: W 1, D 3, L 1
Bruce on Saturday’s game
“The two centre-backs and full-backs were fantastic. The whole team were.
“We’ve come here, won 1-0 and given ourselves a really good chance. To do that, you have to play well.
“We played extremely well in the first 45 minutes, but dropped a bit deep in the second half.
“I think it’s human nature creeping in a little bit there – hanging on to something you have.
“It sets us up nicely for Tuesday.”
and on Tuesday
“Let’s hope we can grasp it.
“There’s still work to do. It’ll be a big night for everyone at the club, especially the supporters.
“I’m looking forward to it immensely. Bring it on!”
Pulis on Saturday’s match
“We’re disappointed. I thought we did enough not to lose the game today.
“The set play is a disappointment; we’re disappointed to lose off that. Villa are in the ascendancy in the tie, we can’t hide that fact. We’re going to Villa Park in front of a full house.
“There’s still a game to play and anything can happen.”
and on Villa
“I’m not concerned about Aston Villa, I’m more concerned about us and the way we play and what we’re trying to achieve.
“That’s the most important thing – that we turn up and we’re a little bit more clinical in the final third – that was the only real negative, apart from conceding from a set play, of the game on Saturday.
“The most important thing is them clearing their minds, making sure they’re focused and ready to go and they know their jobs and do their jobs.”
5th March 2005 – Aston Villa 2 Middlesbrough 0
Two goals from Martin Laursen and Luke Moore bagged the victory for Villa in this Premier League encounter, watched by over 34,000 at Villa Park.
One to Watch
Adama Traoré – The former Villa man has found form under Tony Pulis and will be looking to improve on his Saturday showing
boro have won just two of their past nine away games
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
We’ve certainly put ourselves in a good position, but we need to watch out for complacency. It would have been even better if that Snodgrass chance had gone in on Saturday.
If Boro score first, it would of course level proceedings on Tuesday and potentially swing the tie’s momentum.
It will take more of the excellent defensive work we saw from Villa’s back four on Saturday, but we will likely be without Elmohamady, which makes things a little more difficult.
Some of Middlesbrough’s key threats, including Traoré, had an off night on Saturday, but will be extra motivated to redeem themselves at Villa Park
Middlesbrough’s away record isn’t too impressive but they’re fairly resilient on their travels, losing just one of the last five away games.
While we have now won away at Middlesbrough twice, we didn’t manage to beat them in two home attempts this season, even with Traoré’s early sending off in the league game.
If fact, Villa failed to score in both games at Villa Park.
Going back further, we haven’t managed to beat Boro in our last five attempts at Villa Park, with the last win at home coming way back in 2005…
“There’s still work to do. It’ll be a big night for everyone at the club, especially the supporters. I’m looking forward to it immensely” – bruce ON tuesday
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
We mentioned above that we didn’t win against Middlesbrough at Villa Park, but you have to remember just how good our home form was this season.
Against top-half teams we were unbeaten, winning five and drawing six – including wins over Fulham, Wolves and Cardiff.
As well as this, we have lost just one of our last 10 home games – winning seven, and drawing the other two.
Focusing specifically on Tuesday’s opponents, we have now faced Boro three times in league competition (counting the play-offs), and are yet to concede.
Meanwhile, Middlesbrough have defensive issues of their own after Daniel Ayala’s injury in the first leg makes him a doubt for Tuesday. On their travels, they’ve won just two of their past nine.
Looking at the managers, Bruce has lost just one of his last seven play-off games as a manager. On the other side of the dugout, Pulis has only won two of his previous nine away games against Aston Villa as a manager, so certainly the signs are good.
If we can get an early goal, we can have half an eye on the final – we’ve won 22 of the 24 games in which we’ve scored the first goal.
If that wasn’t enough, in the current format, none of the previous 15 second tier teams to win the first leg of a play-off semi final away from home, have failed to reach the final…