By Richard Wakefield

Scared Canaries

A cracking effort from Jack Grealish propelled Villa into the holiday season with a slender victory over struggling Wigan. Next up, Steve Bruce travels to East Anglia as Villa prepare to take on pre season title contenders Norwich City.

Although the Canaries started strong in the campaign, a rough patch of form has seen Alex Neil’s men lose six matches out of their last seven league matches. However this poor run could be very deceiving as these matches included tough matches against fellow promotion contenders such as Brighton, Derby, Leeds and even Preston.

Picking up the three points against Wigan may have overshadowed the poor performance at Villa Park, but winning when playing badly is a sign of a good team, and long may such results continue.

Here’s three ways of making it happen…

 

Opposites Attract

Alan Hutton has garnered a reputation around Villa Park for not exactly being the most gifted footballer to grace the hallow turf, however surprisingly, there may be a full back who could pip him to the award of worst performing full back in this game.

Martin Olsson isn’t a player many would associate with being a liability to the Norwich team but taking a deeper look into the Canary echo chamber reveals some hidden truths. Statistically of the average starting eleven for Norwich, Olsson has the lowest average rating with a measly 6.5 out of ten whilst the rest of the team average around a solid seven out of ten. Although a small margin, in the context of football ratings, that is a worrying drop for Norwich fans.

Proof can also be seen through the reaction of fans on social media to his performances in matches and his recent new contract extension, being met with negativity. The likes of Robbie Brady had to drop to left-back against Barnsley on Saturday as he scored a 6.4 rating making him even more prone to criticism.

Clearly Norwich are going through a confused period in terms of their left-back situation, which is where Villa need to exploit and turn the screw. Albert Adomah has hit a rich vein of form under Steve Bruce playing well against even the best of full-backs. Making sure Adomah is used more frequently in play against Olsson or a makeshift left-back could see Villa reap the rewards of three points on Tuesday.

No Luxury

As great as the goal was from Grealish, he unfortunately wasn’t all that good throughout the game against Wigan and if Steve Bruce allows that type of performance to happen again, Villa could be punished.

Norwich can play the majority of the teams in the Championship off the park when they hit their stride. Intricate passing manoeuvres was common place at Carrow Road earlier in the season and there’s nothing stopping them from rekindling that spark again.

Swapping Grealish out for a more industrious midfielder that can hopefully cut out the possession oriented football Norwich like to play, could be pivotal in ensuring a chance at the top half doesn’t go begging for Villa.

Unfortunately, Villa aren’t gifted with such midfielders in their ranks, so Bruce may go for a midfield three comprising of a mixture of Westwood, Jedinak and Gardner to try and enforce this no nonsense play style.

Looking at those three, I’d be tempted to leave Grealish in and go toe-to-toe with Norwich in an open game, but that’s unlikely to be in Bruce’s approach.

Action Sparks Reaction

Very few people will question Steve Bruce’s man management skills in the game. It has been a crucial part of why he has been so successful for so long in management. But Jordan Ayew has been one of the only players to seemingly regress in terms of confidence since the arrival of Steve Bruce.

A poor performance against Wigan was the boiling point for most fans as they openly criticised the Ghanain for his consistent under-performing in recent weeks and maybe it is time for Ayew to watch from the side-lines.

Not starting Ayew against Leeds didn’t seem to work, as he continued his poor form the following game at Villa Park. What will it take to motivate him?

Maybe it’s time to open the door for McCormack to finally prove to Bruce why he should be the first name on the team sheet. And what a perfect opponent to prove yourself against; the team McCormack rejected to join Villa in the summer, wouldn’t it be sweet?

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Think mug handle is right gabby. is past it doesn’t deserve any more chances give hepburn- murphy a chance before rangers get him and why play Westwood or deadwood in front of tishbola at least tishbola is effective going forward I mean out best player so far adomah left out for gabby crazy decision start playing kodija in his correct position with grealish on the left or this season is over by xmas then who gets the blame ????

  2. How can. anyone have confidence in gabby hasn’t contributed 1 bit every time he’s played gives the ball away needlessly again 6 strikers no shots Westwood is dire to say the least Bruce I would like to know what you see in this pile of shite I can’t see if we don’t need additions in Jan your a cunt because as I’ve said before these players are shite not 1 premier or championship player among them total joke at least under Rdm we played some good football this is shite everyone thought Bruce the Messiah had come ( me to) but he’s got to go as we have been lucky since he came but the luck has run out I’m writing this at car row road and I want my money back the play offs under Bruce bollox

    • Yep, SB’s grade has gone from an A- to a C after the last few games. Last night’s team selection was daft, I have supported Gabby but last night showed what level he has fallen to. He was trying but wasn’t effective at anything, seems to still think he is the fastest on the pitch so was too far away from the man he was covering. The goal started from a dodgy touch of his. Westwood? Would really like to know the win loss ratio differences when he plays vs not playing. He certainly has worked out how to create good statistics without doing anything good. The subs were weird and late, I think I saw a 424 again. It was a pathetic performance but think the manager shares a lot of it. Chester, Jedinak, Kodija, Amavi can hold their head up. The rest not so much.

  3. I agree with the Grealish comment. Bring him on for 30 minutes to get or make a goal. He’s not going to contribute to beaking up play, its not his strength. McCormack deserves an opportunity. Unpopular as it might sound, Gabby might not be prolific goal scorer, but he can break up play, and run forward with the ball at pace. He’s now got decent finishers around him. I have more confidence in Gabby’s contribution, than Gested’s at the moment. We just don’t play to Gested’s strengths, and with the ball on the floor he aint quick enough.

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