It may have not been pretty or too exciting, but boy did Villa (and Steve Bruce) need those three points away to Middlesbrough. A solid performance by James Chester and Tommy Elphick, with Mile Jedinak in front of them, kept Boro quiet, while a great assist by Albert Adomah set up the Robert Snodgrass winner.
Villa are currently playing catch-up, but the end-of-year win certainly helped get things back on track going into 2018.
Despite Steve Bruce’s unnecessary comments after the game, at least now the players should be fired up for the year ahead.
Promotion is the aim and there will be no excuses for failure.
— MY OLD MAN SAID (@oldmansaid) December 30, 2017
If any team was in need of a win to re-focus them going into the new year, Aston Villa were desperate for one. It was perhaps the first time going into a game this season Villa fans were apathetic about the forthcoming result. So expectations weren’t exactly high.
— MY OLD MAN SAID (@oldmansaid) December 29, 2017
Having slumped to 9th in the league after five winless games, the away win thanks to a Robert Snodgrass winner, now sees Villa on the edge of the play-off picture. A home win against Bristol City should see them back in the top six.
Wolves maybe out of sight in terms of the title, but Villa can still aim for the final automatic place, but they still need to become more convincing as a team.
It’s also Steve Bruce’s birthday today (57), so from his point of view, perhaps there was no better present.
People thought MOMS was insane when we’ve been suggesting that Tommy Elphick should be the go-to guy to replace John Terry. Steve Bruce has tried every option (apart from Micah Richards) before he finally succumbed to playing the Bournemouth captain. If only he had listened to MOMS, Villa would probably be two or three points better off.
While Elphick had an mixed start to his Villa career, you cannot escape the fact he played centre-back and captained the Cherries to promotion to the Premier League. You know, the exact same thing Villa are fumbling around trying to achieve.
He’s also played alongside James Chester last season, so can form a more familiar centre-back partnership than anybody else in the squad.
With that in mind, he was always a better bet then Chris Samba or playing Mile Jedinak out of position.
Certainly in our book, he was the man of the match in terms of player ratings.
If he gets his confidence back, then Villa will have three legitimate top level centre backs at this level.
As mentioned previously in this column, Jack Grealish has showed signs of having fresh focus after returning back from injury. There is still work to be done in terms of syncing up with his teammates and vice versa to make him more effective in terms of the team. If he develops more of a cutting edge then he may have a bigger role to play this season.
Yep, Small Heath finally winning is a positive. The Blues took three points away from Leeds, one of the teams that have taken advantage of Villa’s recent slump. Which leads us to the final reason to be cheerful…
Apart from Derby, all the other four teams chasing the automatic promotion berth (below Wolves) that are now currently filling the play-off spots above Villa, all lost. So after our winless misadventures earlier in the month, Villa gained back three points on Cardiff, Bristol City, Leeds and Sheffield United.
With Bristol City up next, there’s a chance to again reign in another three points on a direct rival. With Derby playing Sheffield United also, there would be another guaranteed gain for Villa on at least one other team above them, if they win.