“It’s very early still. There are still 40 games to play – and a lot to play for” – Steve Bruce
The Villa Appetiser: Barnsley v Aston Villa 2017
While spirits were reasonably high ahead of the international break, two 0-0 draws at Villa Park have done little to convince Villa fans that promotion is on the cards.
Admittedly we were unlucky against Middlesbrough but more and more points are being dropped as we go on – 7 points from 7 matches is a worrying record. It’s simply not good enough
It’s a big game for Barnsley on their 130th anniversary. Can we get the first away win of the season?
Heckingbottom on Hourihane
“What Conor did really well here was that he left with a bit of class and in style and signed off with a goal and things like that.
“That is what people remember him for.
“He was here at the game on the other night, so I had a quick catch-up with him.
“Conor is a very grounded, humble lad and he knows what Barnsley have done for him.
“He knows that the club played a big part in his career so far and he had some good times here, so the feeling will be both ways.”
Bruce on form
“We believe we are nearly there.
“I know for a fact that at the end of it, we will be there or thereabouts.
“At the moment, we have had a difficult start in terms of points taken.
“And, of course, when that happens you leave yourself open.
“We just have to get on with what we are doing. We aren’t too far short.
“Hopefully we can change it over the course of the next two weeks.
“But seven points from seven games isn’t a big enough tally.
“It’s very early still. There are still 40 games to play – and a lot to play for.
“It’s been a frustrating start for everybody but we must win a couple of games to keep away the mass hysteria, which unfortunately engulfs the club very, very quickly.”
27th Sep 2016 Barnsley 1 Villa 1
A goal from Ayew was cancelled out by Sam Winnall’s 90th minute equaliser.
Barnsley – Last five matches at home: W 2, D 2, L 1
Villa – Last five matches away: D 1, L 4
One to Watch
Brad Potts – The midfielder has started all of Barnsley’s league games this season after his summer switch from Blackpool.
Barnsley have never won against Villa at Oakwell
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
Barnsley gave Villa some difficult moments during our first season back in the second division. We drew against them during the ill-fated RDM reign, and then suffered a 3-1 defeat at Villa Park.
Recently historical statistics have been reasonably kind to Villa; despite this we have lost two of our last three league games against Barnsley, after losing none of the 11 encounters between 1936 and 1997.
Heckingbottom’s men are in decent goal-scoring form too – curiously they are one of two Championship clubs whose goals have been scored exclusively by British players (8) this season, Sheffield Wednesday being the other.
It wouldn’t be so bad if we were winning our home games like we did for large parts of last season, and we really can’t afford to keep dropping points. Bruce was keen to stress the importance of September but also says it’s still “very early” in the season.
Bruce’s squad rotation is perhaps indicative of a manager who doesn’t know his best team. Adomah’s recent omissions have been odd, although the decision to start Bjarnason in his place on Tuesday was a counter message to Adama Traore playing (although he only lasted three minutes).
With just one point from five away games, it’s a difficult task for Villa, especially considering the presence of the Sky cameras.
Heckingbottom’s men have lost just once during their last five games at home, which included an impressive 3-0 win over Sunderland, who seem to be echoing our struggles as a team recently relegated from the Premier League.
Despite losing many of their key players in recent transfer windows (including Bree and Hourihane of course), Barnsley are doing very well to remain competitive – let’s not forget they were in League One the season before last.
In addition to this, Barnsley will be celebrating their 130th anniversary this weekend so will be especially keen to mark the occasion with a win.
“It’s been a frustrating start for everybody but we must win a couple of games to keep away the mass hysteria, which unfortunately engulfs the club very, very quickly” – bruce on pressure
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
It’s getting more and more difficult to be too positive about Villa performances, but there were some signs of promise on Tuesday.
Robert Snodgrass was decent during his first start for Villa while Kodjia’s return helped bring some cheer to Villa Park.
Similarly, Hourihane put in an energetic display against 10-man Boro. In his 57 previous Football League appearances at Oakwell, Hourihane was involved in 37 goals (15 goals, 22 assists), so hopefully he can replicate some of that tomorrow evening!
The last away game saw us draw against Bristol City and while it wasn’t a classic we did at least stop the rot of away defeats – our five before that had all been losses.
As well as that, Barnsley have never beaten Villa at Oakwell…
The emotional letter written in Barnsley’s programme by terminally-ill owner Patrick Cryne puts everything into perspective. Our thoughts are with him and his family.
Hopefully Barnsley have a great season in tribute to Patrick, and everything he has done for their club.