The Villa Appetiser: Aston Villa v Barnsley 2017
With Saturday’s performance still fresh in Villa fans’ minds, it’s perhaps a good thing that there’s another game to be played so soon. Three points on Tuesday would certainly help make up for the weekend’s terrible result.
With our unbeaten record demolished by the Tractor Boys, a victory is vital against Barnsley, but it won’t be easy.
Still enjoying the momentum of promotion from League One, Hourihane and Bree’s old club are 10 points closer to the play-offs than we are, and will be full of confidence ahead of their trip to Villa Park.
Can we finally record a first win of 2017?
Steve Bruce on Villa’s disappointment
“I understand the frustration, I understand it totally.
“It is not just about the weekend.
“They want to see their team improve and Saturday was a backward step.
“We have to batten down the hatches, get ready for the flak and come out and show what we have got on Tuesday.
“In a way we were unfortunate. We should not have lost on Saturday.
“However, we have got to improve on the performance because that is the expectation at this club.
“You have to stick with it and, to be fair, they do.
“We had another 30,000 here which is why it is a big, huge club and why everyone wants to come and play here – and play against us.
“We are disappointed. We have lost once at home. We haven’t won enough at home, though.
“But we have to still believe. It is going to be very difficult.
“There is still a third of the season left so we have to go on some run, we understand that, but it has to be the aim.
“I know what the Championship is like. We have to stick at it and see if we can turn it round.”
Heckingbottom on Villa
“We’re always trying to improve every game, and every performance.
“Villa can change what they do in any instant, I watched them quite a bit at the start of the season where they weren’t necessarily getting results but lots of draws that could have been wins.
“Now they’ve reinvested and brought even more players in.
“They could be playing terribly but they have the players to score a goal out of nothing and that’s how they’re picking up points.
“The results haven’t come of late for them but they still have the same calibre of player, so no matter how well we play they have match winners who could score at any moment so it’s going to be a tough game.
“We keep surprising the big teams though, they’ll be in for a game from us.”
Barnsley have lost just twice in their last 10 games
11th March 1998 Villa 0 Barnsley 1
A goal from Ashley Ward secured three Premier League points when we last faced Barnsley at Villa Park.
Villa – Last five matches at home: W 2, D 2, L 1
Barnsley – Last five matches away: W 3, D 1, L 1
One to Watch
Tom Bradshaw – The ex-Walsall striker has Villa-supporting family and has scored five goals this season.
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
The January transfer window was significant for both Villa and Barnsley this year, and a lot has changed since the 1-1 draw in September.
Both goal-scorers from that game (Ayew and Sam Winnall) have since been sold by each team, and the respective squad changes will play a part in the both teams’ seasons.
Hourihane will be a talking point ahead of Tuesday’s game as he faces his old club, but Bree has picked up an injury – joining Jedinak and Agbonlahor on the sidelines.
Despite our terrible away form the notion of Villa Park as a fortress was a rare positive during this dismal season, but that’s now come to an end.
We’ve now drawn two and lost six of our last eight games, so there’s even more pressure on Villa to win this Tuesday.
That Barnsley have drawn both of their last two games 0-0 perhaps shows that defensive solidity is the approach for Heckingbottom’s men as they get used to their changing team.
They’re doing something right though. Just six points away from the play-off places, Barnsley have only lost twice in their last 10 games.
In stark contrast to this, Villa’s solitary point in 2017 means we have the worst record of any side in English football’s top four leagues – along with Leicester City, Coventry City and Leyton Orient.
While Villa still seem to have relegation baggage, Barnsley are continuing the feel-good factor of promotion from League One.
“no matter how well we play [villa] have match winners who could score at any moment, so it’s going to be a tough game” – heckingbottom ON VILLA
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
Villa and Barnsley have something in common as a result of the January transfer window – both teams have begun rebuilding the squad. We’ve both sold players, but Barnley’s departures could have a negative effect on the rest of the season.
Form is good for Heckingbottom’s men. But that doesn’t really take into account the team after the sales of Winnall, Hourihane, and Bree.
A few loan signings from the Premier League such as Matty James from Leicester and Gethin Jones from Everton will help cover those player exits, but the departing trio were a key part of Barnley’s successful 15/16 season, in which they also won the Football League trophy.
Meanwhile Alex Mowatt, who recently signed from Leeds, will miss Tuesday’s game serving a suspension after a red card on his Barnsley debut. On that subject, Grealish could feature as he returns from his own enforced exclusion.
Sure, Villa have seen a team struggling to gel. But the performances of the likes of Lansbury and Hogan have been promising, while Hourihane will be keen to impact the game against his old club.
For what it’s worth, Villa have only lost one of their thirteen league meetings with Barnsley, and at least a goal-less draw is unlikely – Barnsley haven’t drawn three matches 0-0 in a row since January 1912!
Hopefully we see a reaction from Saturday’s defeat, with some signs that our season can still end positively.
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