The Villa Appetiser: Cardiff City v Aston Villa 2017
After an encouraging performance in the League Cup Villa head into the first away game of the season.
There are signs to suggest that our performances on the road will be an improvement on the poor showings last season, and it was good to see an inexperienced Villa side hold on for the cup win on Wednesday, albeit against a League Two side.
Still, Cardiff are a good side these days having risen up the table with Neil Warnock last season, and are, like most Championship teams, in with a realistic chance of reaching the playoffs.
Warnock having taken over Cardiff in the same week as Bruce did Villa, finished higher than his rival despite Cardiff starting off below Villa and spending a fraction on players than the Villa boss did.
After losing last season at the Cardiff City stadium, this is a good measure for Bruce in terms of whether his team have improved.
Certainly, a win will be a firm foot forward in terms of showing promotion intention.
Warnock on Villa
“It’ll be another experience for (Zohore) because he won’t have played against the quality of John Terry yet.
“There aren’t any leaders anymore – John Terry’s a dying breed and you need that on the pitch.
“As a young lad you want to see what it’s about. You hit a brick wall and you think, ‘wow, is it that good?’
“Ken’s only just started his career really. I wouldn’t say wasted it, but it’s taken him a while to focus on what he can do in the game and now the sky’s the limit, and this is a good test.
“In a couple of years he’ll be playing against John Terrys every week, hopefully for Cardiff.”
“The sort of money Steve has spent on John Terry we haven’t spent on the whole squad.
“It’s a fantastic signing, I know exactly where Steve is coming from. He’ll be giving experience to those around him.
“All credit to him. Yeah he’s on a good wage but he could have earned more abroad and I think it’s great he’s gone with Steve and another chapter to his story.”
Bruce on Cardiff
“I’m hoping by the time the window finishes that we’ll have an Aston Villa team in the same sort of mould (as Cardiff).
“The one thing you do know what you’re going to get with Neil Warnock’s team is that they’ll be highly committed, they’ll be up and at you with a physical presence in a lot of areas, very good at free-kicks, very direct and that’s what the Championship is.
“We play the complete opposites in the next two away games.
“One’s going to be physical, a typical Neil Warnock team and then we’ve got Reading who play a totally different way on Tuesday so that’s what the Championship is and we’ve got two big challenges ahead.”
2nd Jan 2017 Cardiff 1 Villa 0
A goal from Joe Ralls was enough to secure the points the last time the sides met.
Cardiff – Last five matches at home: W 3, D 1, L 1
Villa – Last five matches away: W 1, D 1, L 3
One to Watch
Kenneth Zohore –The Dane was Cardiff’s top scorer last season with 12 goals.
Only Ipswich have drawn more games in the Championship since the start of last season than Villa
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
Firstly, the last time we won away at Cardiff was in 1974. But that’s a bit misleading.
Encounters between the two teams have been few and far between over the past few decades, but we have failed to win at the Cardiff City Stadium during the last couple of visits.
Looking even further back, Cardiff have lost just two of their last 13 home league games against Villa, winning eight and drawing three!
Villa fans may not like Bruce’s comments about how he wants his team to play, but he’s right about Cardiff. They’re a difficult side to beat and did very well in the second half of last season.
Amavi’s departure this week was not entirely unexpected but it does raise questions about the stability of the side. We keep hearing from the club that ‘stability’ is needed, Bacuna looks outgoing too, producing another window with a mass switch around of players.
Talking of players, Cardiff have not splashed the cash in recent years but the signing of Zohore looks inspired. He’s scored 12 Championship goals in 2017 – only prolific players Chris Wood (17), Yann Kermorgant and Lasse Vibe (both 13) have scored more.
There is also, of course, the fact that we were awful away from home last season, including this fixture. If we are to progress this season, this will have to change. Only Ipswich (with 16) have drawn more games in the Championship since the start of last season than Villa. Dropping points will cost us.
Cardiff will be eyeing the play-offs after the way they ended last season and there will be a tough atmosphere at the first home game.
The pressure is already on for Villa after a disappointing result at home to Hull, and key Villa players are still missing – Green could also miss Saturday’s game.
“I’m hoping by the time the window finishes that we’ll have an Aston Villa team in the same sort of mould (as Cardiff)” – BRUCE ON CARDIFF
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
For a while now Villa fans have been hoping to see some of the club’s talented younger players, and to be fair to Bruce, we did see this on Wednesday.
While it was against League Two Colchester, there was a pleasing resilience about Villa’s performance even with an inexperienced squad. Bruce made nine changes for the cup game, so squad depth can no longer be described as an issue.
As nice as Bruce has been about his opponents this Saturday, he has a good record against Warnock. He’s won nine of his 11 previous meetings as manager with Neil Warnock, with the only defeat coming in the Villa defeat last season.
With plenty of grafters in the team such as Terry and Whelan, we should no longer be pushovers away from home.
There were positives in last weekend’s game at Villa Park, and if we had taken our chances in the first half, it would have been a very different scoreline.
The history books seem confident anyway. Neil Warnock, who isn’t the most popular figure among the Villa faithful, has won only two of his clashes as manager against Aston Villa in all competitions (winning twice, drawing four times and losing five times).
As well as that, Aston Villa have won seven of the last 10 league encounters with the Bluebirds…
Hopefully, we can get our first away win since March this weekend.