Sheffield Wednesday vs Aston Villa 2016
The Championship begins!
After last season’s debacle and inevitable relegation, Villa fans are a surprisingly optimistic bunch ahead of our first season opener in the second tier since a 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town in 1987.
This is in part thanks to the changes that have swept through Villa Park this summer. New boss Di Matteo boasts a Champions League final win to his name, but more importantly, he has Championship promotion experience.
While the squad revamp that many thought would occur hasn’t quite happened, Villa have done a decent job in the transfer market. Ross McCormack’s expensive capture is a statement of intent, Elphick has experience and will be a good leader, while Tshibola and Gollini bring a freshness to the squad. While there’s a promise of more to come.
Despite the excitement, there’s no doubt we’ve been given a difficult start to life in the Football League (or EFL as it’s now known). Sheffield Wednesday will be keen to avenge their Play-Off final disappointment, and with several impressive squad additions, promotion will also be their expectation this season.
It won’t be easy for Villa, and Newcastle learned this on Friday night, but it could be the start of an exciting chapter in our history…
Carvalhal on Villa
“They are a very strong side. They have a good coach, a good team and they have some really very strong players.
“It will be tough for Villa. They are playing at our stadium. We don’t play with just 11, we play with 26,000. The fans will be with us, the energy will be with us and make our team more dynamic. We are ready.”
Di Matteo on Sheffield Wednesday
“I am confident with the group.
“It will be a real tough test with our first game. It’s a very good team and they have made some good additions as well.
“But we will be ready – ready for the test and hopefully we can get something positive out of this game.
McCormack on season opener
“It doesn’t come any tougher.
“That’s one of the hardest away games since I’ve been in this league. The fans are great, and they have a really good team – Barry Bannan and Gary Hooper, guys like that.
“It’s going to be tough.”
Sheff Wed are undefeated in their last 6 home matches
5th April 2000 Sheffield Wednesday 0 Villa 1
A 90th minute goal from Alan Thompson secured the win in the last league meeting.
Sheffield Wednesday – Last five matches at home: W 3, D 2 (Not including Play-Off games)
Villa – Last five matches away: L 5
One to Watch
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
It seems less important than usual to consult the history books now that Villa are in the Championship. It’s been a while since we played many of the teams in this league, with previous meetings often part of a completely different era.
Our last league meeting with Wednesday came over 15 years ago, and perhaps it’s a good omen that that occasion was a victory.
Looking to recent statistics however, it appears that life will not get any easier for Villa. Recruitment for Wednesday has been strong. They’ve recently captured Will Buckley on loan, brought in a couple of Watford players with promotion experience (including Almen Abdi, who played 32 Premier League games last season!) and Steven Fletcher to bolster their squad.
Sheffield Wednesday’s strong 2015/16 campaign saw very impressive home form – losing just two of 23 home games. More recently, they kept a clean sheet in their last three home games.
In addition to this solidity, Sheffield Wednesday won more points from behind (17) than any other Championship side, so there’s clearly a good character in the squad.
With Villa’s back line likely to include several of last season’s relegation squad, we should be very worried that the Owls scored 42 goals at home last season – more than everyone apart from promoted Hull.
Finally, let this sink in. Villa’s last away win was the season opener against Bournemouth last season!
“They are a very strong side. They have a good coach, a good team and they have some really very strong players” – Carvalhal on villa
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
On the subject of season openers, Wednesday look strong – they’ve lost an opening-day match just once in their last eight seasons. Villa have good form here too, however, and we’ve won each of our last three openers.
When you consider that Villa’s squad on Sunday will probably consist of at least 6-7 of last season’s strugglers, you can’t help but worry.
But with new owner Tony Xia and the new signings, there’s a much more optimistic atmosphere surrounding the club, and in football, this can make a big difference.
McCormack scored a whopping 38 Championship goals over the past two seasons and was linked with a move to Wednesday recently. Could he announce his arrival with a debut goal?
Tommy Elphick has the leadership qualities and experience suggest that we’ll be a much more resolute unit this season. Di Matteo’s work with Chelsea shows that if there’s anyone who can fix Villa’s defensive frailties, it’s him!
Gollini is a welcome change from the nervous displays we saw towards the end of Guzan’s Villa career, and Tshibola looks like an exciting player.
While we’ve mentioned Sheffield Wednesday’s qualities, it’s worth remembering that the Play-Off final defeat could weigh on their minds, and if you forgive us for looking at the history books for a moment, Villa have won three of the last 5 league meetings at Hillsborough…
Things are starting to come together, and while we may still need some new additions, at least there will be a different feel to the squad.
This is a fresh start for Villa and a chance for Villa to avoid the unwanted stat of 19 away league games without a win (the last time this happened was August 1976!).
It’s a very tough opener, but with both teams finding their feet after disappointments of their own, there’s no reason why we can’t kickstart our season with a win.