The Villa Appetiser: Aston Villa v Preston North End 2018
Well.. we were always going to lose at some point.
Given our terrible record at Craven Cottage, it wasn’t a huge surprise, but it showed how we miss Adomah and Grealish.
There’s no time to dwell on it, though, with another promotion rival heading to Villa Park on Tuesday. One that managed to get a point out of Wolves at the weekend.
Will Bruce make changes to the squad, and will home advantage help us against another tough team?
3rd in the league table with the 3rd best home record.
Last five matches at home: W 4, D 1
7th in league table with 4th best away record.
Last five matches away: W 2, D 3
Steve Bruce on Fulham display
“I think today was always going to be about who could get the first goal. Unfortunately we didn’t.
“We had a few good chances in the first half but we weren’t clinical enough.
“We were dealt a blow before the game with injuries to Jack Grealish and Albert Adomah.
“Over the last four or five weeks they’ve been the ones who’ve given us that cutting edge and penetration.
“But as I said, I always thought it was going to be a case of who scored that first one.
“They got it, and the second one is a mistake – it hasn’t come off for Sam Johnstone. We got punished there.”
and on Preston
“They’ve only lost six games all season.
“Add to that they’ve just gone and got a result at Wolves today.
“It’ll be a tough one.”
and on injuries
“[Elmohamady] has gone for a header and twisted his back by the look of it.
“We’re not sure how long he’ll be out yet but he looks very saw at the moment.
“We’ll have to see how he is over the next few days.
“With Jack, it’s a case of wait and see.
“I don’t think so with Albert – it’s still too soon.”
Neil on Villa
“They’ve got a group of players that have predominantly all played in the Premier League. They all get paid vast sums of money and they’ve invested heavily in the squad.
“If they weren’t up at the top end of the division you would be asking questions, but they are a good side.
“They know what they are doing, they are more of a counter-attacking team, they are not a dictator of the ball the way Wolves would be.
“We got caught that way the last time we played them as well, we gave the ball away in a silly area and they punished us. We need to make sure that we guard against that and we are going to have to perform very well.
“As recent results have shown, certainly on Saturday, they can be beaten so we need to go there with the confidence that we can do that.”
25th August 1973 – Villa 2 Preston 0
A crowd of 28,861 saw Villa record a 2-0 Division Two win thanks to goals from Trevor Hockey and Charlie Aitken.
This was Hockey’s debut following his move from Norwich City.
One to Watch
Callum Robinson – The ex-Villa man has four goals and four assists to his name this season.
During their last 16 Championship matches, Preston have lost just one match
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
After a run of seven wins it would be daft to be too negative after Saturday’s defeat.
But the performance against Fulham was unlike our recent away days, with the second goal coming from the sort of mistake we haven’t been making.
Without two of our most creative players it was perhaps unsurprising that we failed to score, which was the first time we haven’t found the net in 10 league fixtures.
Earlier in the season when we played Preston away it was a fairly routine win for Villa thanks to goals from Chester and Snodgrass, but Alex Neil’s men are a different proposition now.
Thanks to a run of good form they’re on the brink of the play-off places, and recorded an impressive draw against high-flying Wolves on Saturday.
During their last 16 Championship matches, Preston have lost just one match, losing to Boro on New Year’s Day. During that run they won seven, drawing the other eight.
It doesn’t look particularly likely that Grealish and Adomah will be involved on Tuesday, with Elmohamady also a doubt.
Our excellent run was helped in part by a settled formation/squad, and our promotion-chasing form could be hindered by the match day absences.
“If they weren’t up at the top end of the division you would be asking questions, but they are a good side” – neil ON VILLA
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
We don’t want to stray into “weight off our shoulders” territory and recall Lescott’s misguided remarks, but the weekend’s loss could actually be a good thing.
It’s a timely reminder that no games are a given, and while complacency was not to blame against Fulham, it offers a chance for Villa to prove their powers of recovery.
Looking back through the archives it suggests that even a Villa side without Albert and Jack may prevail on Tuesday. We’ve lost just one of our last 16 home matches against our mid-week visitors (in all competitions), which was a 1-0 defeat in 1968.
Similarly, Preston have failed to find the net in seven of their last 10 matches against Villa, including the aforementioned defeat in the reverse fixture.
If Bruce is to reshuffle the squad we could see a start for Lewis Grabban who will be eager to continue the goalscoring form he showed at Sunderland.
And while there was little to cheer about on Saturday, Axel Tuanzebe’s performance was at least promising, and Onomah is waiting in the wings.
Hopefully our departure from 2nd place in the table proves to be temporary and we can show that we still have a quality squad, despite the absences.