The Villa Appetiser: Aston Villa v Wigan 2016
Well, Leeds was a wake-up call.
The 2-0 scoreline wasn’t entirely representative of how the game panned out, but Villa didn’t quite look themselves.
A home game against a team near the bottom of the table is just what the doctor ordered then, right?
Can Bruce carry on Villa’s good home form with a win against his former club?
Steve Bruce on Wigan
“There becomes an expectation – and that’s a problem. Everyone saying ‘we’ll win this’ – it doesn’t happen.
“I went to watch them play against Huddersfield a few weeks ago, everyone expected Huddersfield to turn them over. They’ve gone there – new manager, new formation, new ideas.
“He’s played the lad Yanic Wildschut up front. He’s made a change there – he’s quick and wants to play on the counter attack. Joycie’s gone in there and he’s got a different philosophy to the previous manager.
“The game has got all the ingredients of ‘you’ve got to be careful’. We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do – play well, get on the front foot quickly and hopefully assert some pressure which we tend to do.
“Wigan will be very well organised. I think they’ll come here, play one up top, put five across the midfield and play exactly as they did against Huddersfield. They absorb all the pressure.”
Warren Joyce on Villa
“Villa Park is one of the great stadiums in the country but to be honest, we can’t afford to think like that. the stadiums we play in doesn’t really come into anyone’s thinking, it certainly doesn’t phase me and the players will be the same.
“We have to approach this like any other game, there are three points on offer and we have to be focused on what we do.
“You need to get all the things right that you can, so our approach is no different from any other game and then it’s a case of getting everything right on the day.
“That’s my job, to go there and try and get a positive result for our club and our fans, where the game is played is of no importance, and we can’t be affected by the glitz and glamour of a big stadium.
“Once you cross the white line, it’s one team against another and that’s the way you have to approach every game.”
VILLA HAVE only won once in our last eight home league games against wigan
29th December 2012 Villa 0 Wigan 3
A 3rd minute goal from Ivan Ramis set the tone for a very disappointing performance the last time Wigan visited Villa Park.
Villa – Last five matches at home: W 3, D 2
Wigan: Last five matches away: W 2, D 3
One to Watch
Will Grigg – The Solihull-born subject of Euro 2016’s unofficial anthem has scored five goals so far this season.
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
Could the new manager bounce be wearing off?
The Leeds performance didn’t look like that of a side who thoroughly outplayed one of the league’s best teams, Brighton, not long ago.
Coupled with Bruce’s revelation that he is lining up players for the January transfer window, it’s clear we still don’t quite have the squad depth we need, despite our summer spending.
It’s a long time since we last faced Wigan at Villa Park. Any Villa fans who were there that day in December 2012 will remember that the players looked like they were still nursing Christmas party hangovers.
It was a freak result in fairness, but we have a weirdly bad record against the former FA Cup winners. We’ve only won once in our last eight home league meetings, failing to score on five occasions!
Ominously, the last time Bruce faced former club Wigan was five years ago, when his Sunderland side lost 2-1 at home. 48 hours later, Bruce was sacked.
Thankfully it’s unlikely history will repeat itself on Saturday, but Wigan have picked up some good results under the new manager Warren Joyce.
While Wigan’s form at home has been an issue (last weekend Derby picked up a 1-0 win at the DW Stadium) their away form is a different story. Before the Derby game, Wigan had bagged four points from tough tests in Barnsley and Huddersfield, and they’re unbeaten in their last five away games.
Bringing up squad depth again, Nathan Baker is still injured and his contribution will be missed against a galvanised Wigan side, and the Elphick-Chester partnership does not appear to be quite as resilient.
Wigan have a historical habit of scoring at Villa Park and it might not be quite as routine as we’d hope. Worryingly, Saturday’s opponents have scored at least twice in each of their four league wins at Villa Park, keeping a clean sheet during all of those victories…
“Villa Park is one of the great stadiums in the country” – warren joyce
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
With the appointment of Warren Joyce, Wigan opted for an up-and-coming manager in their fight to avoid relegation, albeit one who is highly-regarded. So far there are signs that it was a good move to bring in the former Manchester United coach.
On the other side of the dugout, Bruce has the managerial experience that would suggest he will make the necessary and correct changes in the wake of the Leeds defeat. Wigan fans will know it will be a tough game and will fondly remember Bruce’s achievements for their club – including an 11th placed finish in the Premier League.
Ross McCormack is back in contention for Saturday’s game and might feel he has a point to prove if he features, although the tabloid reports that McCormack could be sold may be wide of the mark.
Our good home form under Bruce hasn’t seen any particularly difficult tests yet, but no games are a given. Performances against teams who are happy to defend have been good, and we should be reasonably confident that we can pick up three points against a Wigan side who may opt for a similarly cautious approach.
The table is still ridiculously competitive, but 15th isn’t where Villa want to be right now. Thankfully, we’re only 6 points off the play-off places.
Hopefully we can close that gap and carry on our good run at fortress Villa Park.
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