The Villa Appetiser: Aston Villa v Burton Albion 2018

There’s nothing better than a last-minute winner. After Snodgrass’ brilliant late strike against the Blades, you can’t help but feel increasingly optimistic about promotion now.

After an excellent January, the feel-good factor is in the air as Burton head to Villa Park, boosted by the smart signing of proven Championship goal-scorer Lewis Grabban.

Villa can’t afford to lose concentration though – Burton’s best results this season have been recorded away from home.

Another win would see us record six consecutive victories for the first time since 1990…

Can we make a winning start to February?

Form

VILLA

3rd in the league table with the 3rd best home record.

Last five matches at home: W 3, D 2 

BURTON ALBION

24th in league table with 14th best away record.

Last five matches away: W 3, L 2

Steve Bruce on Lewis Grabban

“There was no secret with the loss of Kodjia I didn’t want to go into a situation in five weeks time where we lost (Keinan) Davis or (Scott) Hogan and we’re scrambling around for a striker.

“We’ve got a good striker who has been around the block a bit and has a bit of knowhow. We’ve strengthened with Axel (Tuanzebe) and Lewis and hopefully they can take us where we want to go.

“He’s been there and got the t-shirt. We all know he can score a goal at this level. A proven striker makes it an excellent bit of business.

“He’s been used to playing at the top end and been successful at it. Tomorrow might be a bit early because he hasn’t played for a month.

“I’m looking at the situation and saying, ‘do we train him for the next 10 days?’ – he’s been quite honest with that. It’s too early for him tomorrow.”

Nigel Clough on Villa

“Now we go to Villa Park and no-one will give us a chance so we will go there and play.

“They were pre-season favourites for promotion and are now getting up there and challenging and it would be no surprise if they made the top two and if not go through the play-offs.

“When you look at the strength of the bench, Steve Bruce has a very good squad to compete.

“And even when Steve’s teams aren’t playing brilliantly and are under the cosh, they don’t concede.”

Memory Match

26th December 2016 – Aston Villa 2 Burton Albion 1 

Villa weren’t at their best during last season’s Boxing Day encounter, the only match between the two teams at Villa Park.

A well-worked goal from Bacuna opened the scoring which was cancelled out by a spectacular volley from Jamie Ward.

The game was eventually settled by a late Ross McCormack strike.

One to Watch

Tom Naylor – the ex-Derby man has been at Burton since their League Two days and plays a vital role in their midfield. He’ll work hard to win the ball back for the Brewers and is a good passer too. Goals from Naylor have contributed to some important away wins for Burton this season.

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bruce has won five of his six previous managerial meetings with clough

Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet

Villa’s attacking players weren’t quite at their best on Tuesday night, so it’s smart that the club have brought in Grabban on loan given his Championship record.

He managed 12 goals in 18 starts for Sunderland earlier in the season but unfortunately it’s unlikely he will feature on Saturday.

Nigel Clough will be keen to make up for the 6-0 away defeat at Fulham last weekend and will hope his transfer reinforcements, including highly rated Man City midfielder Jacob Davenport, can help the Brewers grab a point or three.

While Burton have the worst home form in the league, their away results have been better, with away wins at Reading, Bolton and Millwall in recent memory, as well as a particularly impressive 3-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday.

Despite being bottom of the table, Burton have the 14th best away form in the league – with three wins in their last five away games!

As with the last home game, there’s no room for complacency, and let’s not forget Clough has winning experience at Villa Park, overseeing Sheffield United’s FA Cup win in Jan 2014.

After selling key man Jackson Irvine to Hull City, Burton have struggled in their second season in the Championship, but they proved a difficult opponent in both games last season.

It was a narrow victory at Villa Park while we could only take a point from the Pirelli Stadium…

“When you look at the strength of the bench, Steve Bruce has a very good squad to compete” – CLOUGH ON VILLA

Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag

The history books don’t include much in the way of Villa Burton encounters, but in the three times we’ve played each other in the league, Villa are unbeaten (W 2, D 1).

Steve Bruce has done well against Burton’s Clough in managerial meetings too, winning five of the six previous managerial meetings including both home matches against him.

Villa didn’t seem to have the usual attacking spark against Sheffield United, but this could change on Saturday. The Brewers have conceded 12 goals in their last three Championship games, which is as many as they had conceded in the previous 11 league matches.

Snodgrass’s quality proved decisive in a tight game on Tuesday and he has now scored or assisted in each of his last five league games for Villa – scoring four, with two assists. His late goal seemed like a huge moment in Villa’s season – and a message to our promotion rivals.

Signed on loan from one of those rivals, Darren Bent is a good bit of business for Burton but the former England man might miss a return to Villa Park – he suffered an injury on his debut against Reading on Tuesday so may be absent.

Burton are desperate for points and it won’t be easy for Villa, despite potentially stubborn opponents hopefully we can keep our momentum going with a sixth consecutive league win.

UTV.

Follow Lewis on Twitter – @rymondfootball

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