The Villa Appetiser: Millwall v Aston Villa 2018
With Villa’s 4th place in the table confirmed, this fixture isn’t as important as it could/should have been.
It would have been nice to go into this match with automatic promotion still achievable, but Villa let that slip weeks ago.
It has at least been an improved season for Villa, and with the play-off games to come, the chance of promotion is still very much there.
A “dead rubber” game could be good preparation for the upcoming fixtures – but a match at Millwall will be tough.
8th in the league table with the 8th best home record.
Last five matches at home: W 3, D 1, L 1
4th in league table with 5th best away record.
Last five matches away: W 2, D 1, L 2
Neil Harris on Villa
“I don’t know [about Villa’s team selection] to be honest and I wouldn’t want to second guess Steve [Bruce].
“I’m sure he will be having thoughts about does he keep a settled side to keep momentum or look at the fact they have two play-off games in the space of three days and it is an opportunity to rest a couple that might need looking after following a busy schedule.
“It doesn’t really make too much of a difference what they do, they have got such a good squad of players that they can double up in positions. It is going to be a top, top Villa side we are going to face – whatever the personnel.
“[Finishing as high in the table as possible] has got to be the aim.
“It will have been a really fantastic season.
“To get over the barrier of 70 points will help us maybe stay a little bit higher in the division.
“It’ll be nice to finish as high up the division as possible.
“There is a hell of a lot to play for on Sunday. Yes, we can’t effect the play-offs without a miracle of results but I want to finish really high.
“It has been a brilliant 12 months off the back of our play-off campaign last year.
“I want the players to enjoy it on Sunday.
“It has not been the case in the last few years that we have gone into the game not having pressure – not needing to mathematically win a fixture, but I want the fans to come and enjoy a party atmosphere for what we have achieved in the last two seasons, possibly even the last three.
“We are playing against a massive football club and let’s try to ruffle some more feathers.”
Colin Calderwood on Millwall match
“We’ve got to use it to get ready for the following weekend, which is obviously more important than this game.
“But we still want to come out of it in the same way as we did after Derby, having played well and looked really threatening in attack.
“We want the same again and to win the game.”
and on team selection
“We need to think about players who need a run-out. It’s a chance for them to get some minutes and some rhythm to their game.
“We haven’t fully decided what line we’ll go down yet, but what we don’t want is any suspensions or injuries.
“We’ll control what we can but most importantly we’ve got to be ready for a tough game.
“We can’t coast through the 90 minutes because they will play hard.”
1st April 1975 – Millwall 1 Aston Villa 3
Goals from Hamilton, Leonard and Little secured the points in this Division Two encounter, in front of a crowd of just over 13,000.
One to Watch
George Saville – The midfielder is Millwall’s joint top scorer this season with 10 goals.
Villa have not won their last match in a league campaign since the 2010/11 season
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
We haven’t actually encountered Millwall too much through recent years, but if you go back a bit further, the records are a bit worrying.
Sunday’s opponents have won their past five home matches against Villa (in all competitions), though we haven’t actually met them since an FA cup match in January 2013. Remember it? Another Lambert cup exit!
It will be the first time we’ve faced Millwall away from home (in the league) since December 1989 – you’ve guessed it, we lost 2-0.
In their past nine home matches occurring on the final day of a league season, Millwall are unbeaten, winning seven times during that run.
Villa on the other hand have not won their last match in a league campaign since the 2010/11 season, a win against Liverpool. Since then, we’ve drawn two, and lost four.
Millwall have enjoyed an excellent season having returned to the Championship via the play-offs last year, and their challenge for the play-offs has been one of the surprises of the season.
They deserve a lot of credit for what they’ve achieved under Neil Harris, who will be looking for a win against Villa to end the season on a high…
“It is going to be a top, top Villa side we are going to face – whatever the personnel” – harris ON VILLA
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
With little left to play for, it could be that the lack of pressure helps Villa out in this final match of the regular season.
Millwall’s long 17-game unbeaten run is over after recent losses against Villa’s fellow play-off placed teams Fulham and Middlesbrough.
Villa’s fringe players will be eager to play a part in the play-offs, and will be looking to seize their chance if they are picked for Sunday’s game.
In a match that could be a physical battle, one statistic is encouraging – we’ve scored 17 headed goals this season, more than any other side in the league.
Ideally we will see a good result that puts us in good shape for the massive test of the play-offs. Being realistic, a match without any injuries to key players will do, but hopefully it’s an enjoyable game!
If we get into the winning habit to carry on our good recent form, it can only be a good thing.
This week we heard the sad news of the passing of Steve Bruce’s mother, Sheenagh.
It’s been an incredibly tough time for Steve over the last couple of months. Our thoughts are with him and his family at this difficult time. Rest in Peace.