The Villa Appetiser: Aston Villa v Bristol City 2018
It wasn’t the best performance, but Villa recorded a very good result at the Riverside, particularly impressive given Boro’s home form.
Angst between Bruce and the fans though overshadowed the result and Bruce will be looking for back-to-back wins to get his distractors back on side.
A look at the away form of Bristol City reveals just how tough the first game of 2018 will be, however.
It will be up to Villa to upset the odds at home this time after Saturday’s away win.
Can we win our first game of the New Year?
— MY OLD MAN SAID (@oldmansaid) December 31, 2017
7th in the league table with the 8th best home record.
Last five matches at home: W 2, D 2, L 1
3rd in league table with 2nd best away record.
Last five matches away: W 3, D 2
Bruce on recent form
“We talk about the blip – it was a bad 45 minutes at Brentford and all of a sudden it spirals into crisis.
“It was only a game and a half ago since we were 2-0 up against Sheffield United. A couple of mistakes cost us that time.
“We’ve got to stop this hysteria when we lose games because we won’t get anywhere.
“Yes, we were disappointed against Brentford, but you only need to look at the scores across the Championship every weekend to see how difficult it is.
“I know we’re Aston Villa and there’s a big expectation, but it turns into a crisis when we lose and it shouldn’t.”
Bruce on Bristol City
“It’s the beauty of the Championship.
“Who would have thought Bristol City, Cardiff and Sheffield United would be where they are going into the New Year?
“Not many would have, and that’s how difficult it is.
“Because we’re Aston Villa, it doesn’t give us a divine right to walk through this league. It’s the same for clubs like Middlesbrough, who were in the Premier League last year.
“There’s no divine right.”
Johnson on Villa
“We have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and go again at Villa.
“I think it’s a good thing that it comes so quickly after the Wolves defeat.
“We just have to keep going. We can’t be too down because we have to bounce back quickly.
“You’d expect Villa to go again in January (in the transfer window) to bolster all the talent they already have.
“The Championship is so cut-throat and everyone wants instant success, particularly if expectation is high. Steve Bruce has a great track record and is a very good manager.”
26th October 1907 – Villa 4 Bristol City 4
We saw four goals in the last home game against Sheffield, but how about this for an entertaining fixture?
Two goals each from Joe Bache and Harry Hampton were amazingly not enough to win this Division One clash, which was only the third time we’d faced Bristol City.
One to Watch
Bobby Reid – Although a midfielder by trade, Reid has scored 12 Championship goals this season in a forward role and is Bristol City’s top scorer.
steve bruce hasn’t lost a league match against Bristol City since 1998
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
Bristol City stuck with Lee Johnson last season as they ended the campaign in disappointing fashion. They’re now being rewarded for that patience – just look at some of the stats.
Bristol City have better away form than our home form with three wins and two draws, and while this perhaps shouldn’t come as much of a shock given their impressive league position.
With ex-Villa man Nathan Baker at the heart of defence Bristol have recorded some excellent results, including their 2-1 win over Manchester United in the League Cup.
Four places above Villa in the league, they’ll be confident of adding to that away form, and it will be a tough first game of 2018 for Bruce.
“You’d expect Villa to go again in January (in the transfer window) to bolster all the talent they already have” – johnson on villa
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
After the weekend’s win, things look a little brighter, even if we have only won one of six matches. Some of the historical notes back this up, too.
Villa have won five of the last six league matches at Villa Park against the Robins (losing once), while the last time Bristol City won at Villa Park was in August 1979.
More specifically, the last time we played a New Year’s Day match outside the top division was in 1988. On that occasion we had a 5-0 home win over Hull with Graham Taylor in charge.
The visitors have a less encouraging New Years Day stat – they’ve lost 13 of their last 15 away league matches on the 1st Jan since winning 1-0 at Blackpool way back in 1903.
Bruce’s record in matches where Pulis was the home manager was poor. Things look much better this time around, though. He hasn’t lost a league match against Bristol City since December 1998 (a 2-0 loss as Sheffield United boss). Since then, he’s won four and drawn four.
If that wasn’t enough Saturday’s match-winner Snodgrass has fond memories against Bristol City. He’s been involved in seven goals in five league matches against Bristol City, consisting of three goals and four assists.
That equates to a goal or assist every 59 minutes against the Robins on average – encouraging stuff!
Let’s start 2018 with three points, and hope it’s a better calendar year for Villa’s promotion aspirations.
Happy New Year!
Follow Lewis on Twitter – @rymondfootball
Follow MOMS on Twitter – @oldmansaid