The Villa Appetiser: Reading v Aston Villa 2017
Cardiff City 3 Aston Villa 0
How will Villa respond to a result like that?
There were genuinely encouraging signs in the opening game of the season against Hull City, but after pre-season and much talk of new arrivals improving our away form, we got battered in Wales and it could have been more.
With promotion rivals picking up points, we’re already lagging behind and Bruce is now already under pressure. It’s a tricky fixture too against a Reading side who made it to the play-off final through their solid home form.
It’s not all bad news though. Reading have yet to hit the ground running and are eyeing a first league win, so we’re in with a chance.
Can Bruce get a reaction from the squad?
Stam on Villa
“Every time Villa come to the Madejski Stadium, their fans are very vocal and fill almost the whole stand behind the goal.
“Our fans need to be very loud as well to compete against them.
“Their team is one where a lot of money has been spent again in pre-season, they want to go up and make it difficult for everyone playing against them.
“We’re aware of that and that they’re a very good team. But, against good teams, sometimes you can do very well.”
Bacuna on Reading move
“I’m very happy – I think it’s going to be a different step for me, and I’m delighted to get going. There have been a few ups and downs but in the end we got it over the line.
“It’s a really nice step to try and come here to play for Jaap Stam as well. I’m really delighted and I’m really happy that I can start this new journey, to be honest.
“Reading try to play from the back and they’re really patient. I think that will suit me and it will suit the players, I’ll try and do my best to help the team and try to get some wins.”
— MOMS Villa Podcast (@AstonVillaPod) August 13, 2017
“I haven’t yet played with any of these guys, but I’ve played against some of them. I’ve played in the Dutch league, so I’ve played against Joey van den Berg and Roy Beerens. It’s nice to play with them now and we can get going.
“And the way Reading play football at the moment, teams are frightened, they come here and try and defend. It gives us as a team a bit more patience, and with these kind of games if you win them then you can get going again.”
Bruce on away form
“Playing away from home has been our Achilles heel since I arrived and, to be brutally honest, I haven’t been able to address it in the six months I’ve been here.
“I can’t address it quickly enough. We’ve shown flashes of it so far this season, but when we’re away from home, we just haven’t got enough.
“The one thing that my teams have had over the years to be successful is resilience.”
18th Oct 2016 Reading 1 Villa 2
A late penalty from Ayew helped Villa towards the first away win since the previous season’s opening day.
Reading – Last five matches at home: W 4, D 1
Villa – Last five matches away: W 1, D 1, L 3
One to Watch
Liam Kelly – The midfielder has scored three goals in his past two appearances for Reading in all competitions – two more than he achieved in his first 35 games for the Royals!
villa have kept just three clean sheets in our last 20 away league matches.
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
Even before the start of the season, an away game against Reading was always going to stand out as a difficult one.
Reading fell at the final hurdle last season losing to Huddersfield in the play-off final, and Royals fans will be hoping that this drives them on this time around. On the basis of the last Villa game, Stam and co. will be confident of all three points.
Despite a mini summer rebuild to rectify last season’s travelling woes, the ‘resilience’ Bruce as spoken of was nowhere to be seen in Cardiff on Saturday.
The same old away day blues continue and we have kept just three clean sheets in our last 20 away league matches.
Reading’s promotion bid last season was aided by imposing home form. They’ve lost just the one league match at the Madejski Stadium in 2017 (0-1 to QPR in January) and lost only two in the Championship last season – the best return in the entire league…
In addition to these ominous stats, sod’s law dictates that Bacuna will have some sort of impact on the game after his move to the Royals.
“Every time Villa come to the Madejski Stadium, their fans are very vocal and fill almost the whole stand behind the goal” – STAM ON VILLA FANS
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
A 3-0 defeat to a team who have spent a mere fraction of Bruce’s budget, morale could be low in the squad. We just can’t seem to do well in away games.
But, remarkably, there is still hope. We have a generally impressive record against Reading, winning 10 of our 12 league clashes against them.
While our form is as inconsistent as ever our record at the Madejski Stadium is good. We’ve won the last three league visits there 2-1 – now there’s some consistency, at least.
Stam is still searching for a first league win this season, with like Villa, Reading have a draw and a loss to their name. It is of course early in the season, but could Reading be struggling to get going again due to their play-off loss at Wembley being fresh in their minds?
It’s believed that Bruce will ring a few changes in the squad in a bid to get a result.
There’s an awful lot of pressure on Villa right now just two games into the season, and there are similarities with the corresponding fixture last season.
Last October we hadn’t won an away game since the opening day of the previous campaign and a scrappy win against Reading did set in motion an upturn in Villa’s form.
If we are to achieve anything this season, a similar occurrence this time around would be a major boost.