The Villa Appetiser: QPR v Aston Villa 2017

 

It’s never good to go into the international break on the back of a loss, but hopefully the Sheffield Wednesday defeat was like a bad day at the office more than anything else.

Conceding the early goal didn’t help, then the injury suffered by John Terry, a key figure in our recent upturn in form, and the withdrawal of Robert Snodgrass left Villa a bit shaken

QPR have got some decent results at home of late, notably beating the league’s top two back-to-back at Loftus Road.

Four of the last ten league games between the two clubs have involved four or more goals.

As well as this, Villa have scored nine goals in our last five away matches – it could make for an entertaining encounter.

Form

QPR

15th in the league table with the 4th best home record 

Last five matches at home: W 2, D 2, L 1

VILLA

6th in league table with 9th best away record

Last five matches away: W 3, D 1, L 1

Holloway on Villa

“Villa have got a very, very good manager on their hands as well as a very good squad. They should be up there fighting for promotion this time.

“I feel they have been repaired from how they were before. The criticism I gave them last year was that I didn’t like how they went down. I thought it was too easy.

“Steve has made them a lot more solid, with solid characters – Glenn Whelan being one of them, Robert Snodgrass, Conor Hourihane. He has made some really good signings and they are a force to be reckoned with.

“They beat us 1-0 at Loftus Road last year and I didn’t like that so let’s see if we can beat them this time. Bring it on.”

Bruce on upcoming fixtures

“This is where the division could be won and lost.

“It’s a big, big period for us these next five months.

“It’s just about to start and it’s all to play for.”

Bruce on QPR

“I’ve seen them a couple times and they’ve been good.

“They’ve beaten Wolves and Sheffield United – two of the top teams in the division.

“An Ian Holloway team at Loftus Road will always be up and at you.

“There’ll be plenty of energy and desire.

“Ian is slowly turning things around there – it’s going to be a difficult game.”

Memory Match

20 August 1977 – QPR 1 Villa 2

Aston Villa’s first ever game at Lotfus Road was in 1967, which also took place in the second tier. Villa lost 3-0 and actually failed to win on any of the first six away games at QPR.

The first win came in 1977, when a team of seven England players, three Scotsman and one Welsh player, won 2-1.

The Villa team that day included an 18-year-old Gordon Cowans, alongside three other players that would go on to win the European Cup, five years later – Jimmy Rimmer, Ken McNaught and Dennis Mortimer. Also in the first 11 was ex-Villa bosses John Gregory and Brian Little.

One to Watch

Luke Freeman – the attacking midfielder has created more goalscoring chances than any other player in the Championship this season (38). This includes six assists, which only Nottingham Forest’s Barrie McKay has bettered in the Championship with seven.

Embed from Getty Images

A WIN FOR VILLA WOULD SEE US EQUAL OUR AWAY VICTORIES TALLY OF LAST SEASON

Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet

Ian Holloway wasn’t the most popular pundit amongst Villa fans last season. In a pre-season prediction article, he suggested Villa could face a low position in the Championship table – and even relegation.

To be fair, he was closer in his prediction to those who thought Villa would bounce right back.

As a manager, however, he’s helped turn QPR around. Gone are the big names on big contracts who failed to keep them in the Premier League. They’re now a team of Championship grafters who have an impressive home record this season.

Before an away loss in their last game, QPR defeated the Championship’s top two – Wolves and Sheffield United in back-to-back home games.

Our last game before the international break was a strange one – we dominated the game after we found ourselves 2-0 down. There’s a risk that our confidence could be damaged, despite our recent good form.

With Terry now injured, Samba, who in fairness improved during the Wednesday game (and got the goal!) may be a consideration for Bruce, but the manager’s recent references to Elphick and Richards hint that’s he unsure about Terry’s temporary replacement.

A decent option would be Jedinak who performed well in the CB position briefly last season, although he may not be fit for a full match after his World Cup qualifier heroics and long haul flight back.

As well as Kodjia, Hogan will also miss out due to surgery following a blockage in his stomach.

It’s a not ideal ahead of a trip to Loftus Road – only three teams (Cardiff, Wolves and Sheffield United) have picked up more points at home than QPR.

After the international break, it’s a tough game to return to.

“Villa have got a very, very good manager on their hands as well as a very good squad. They should be up there fighting for promotion this time” – HOLLOWAY ON VILLA

Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag

Both Villa and QPR had players involved in Australia’s World Cup qualifiers. They’ll be waiting on the condition of midfielder Massimo Luongo, while Jedinak could feature for Villa after a (near) hat-trick against Honduras (one was classed as an own goal).

If Mile is to feature on Saturday he’d be a capable replacement for Terry, or a useful addition to our midfield.

The aforementioned home results of QPR were seriously impressive, but they followed those consecutive wins with a 4-0 defeat away at Nottingham Forest just before the international break. Such is the unpredictable nature of the Championship.

A look through the history books bodes well for Villa. We have only lost once in our last nine league meetings with QPR, and did the double over them last season (both games ending 1-0).

In terms of the managers, Steve Bruce has not lost in his last nine league encounters against QPR since 1999.

Holloway on the other hand has never emerged victorious in five previous meetings as a manager with Villa, losing on four of those occasions.

Having endured such torrid away form last season, we’ve now won three of our last five away games. Should we record another on Saturday, it would be Villa’s fourth of 2017-18. Astonishingly, this would equal our tally for the whole of last season!

It will be interesting to see who Bruce chooses in the absence of Terry, but hopefully we can continue our climb up the table without our captain.

UTV.

Follow Lewis on Twitter – @rymondfootball

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