The Villa Appetiser: Aston Villa v Derby 2018
Villa made it three wins in a row last Saturday with the Ipswich victory, so even though we’ve left it a little too late, it’s good to finish the season strongly going into the play-offs.
Another three points this weekend won’t be easy. Derby picked up an impressive win over Cardiff City in the week and are in need of more points to strengthen their play-off chances.
It will be the first time we’ve faced Gary Rowett at Villa Park since he brought his Birmingham City side in the League Cup back in 2015.
Can we keep the momentum going?
4th in the league table with the 3rd best home record.
Last five matches at home: W 4, L 1
6th in league table with 6th best away record.
Last five matches away: W 1, D 2, L 2
Steve Bruce on promotion
“When you reach the end of the season and have something to play for, it’s never a bad thing, is it?
“If we can’t go up automatically, then the Play-Offs are a great spectacle to be involved in.
“And if you make it to the final, that’s something else.
“I’ve had the privilege to do it a couple of times, and it’s arguably the best way to do it.
“We’ve cemented our place, we’re playing well and have everyone fit. It’s still all to play for.”
and on Derby
“They’ve had a tough time since February. I remember they beat us to go second in December.
“They’ve got some great players who’ve been there and done it all, though.
“For that reason, I’m expecting it to be tough.”
and on a sold out Villa Park
“It tells its own story really. The supporters have generally been pleased with what they’ve seen this year.
“When you get a full house for your last game of the regular season, it’s great for everybody concerned.
“A big thank you goes our to them, they’ve been magnificent.
“What makes a big club is its support, and their loyalty is unwavering.
“They’ve been fantastic home and away all season. Let’s hope we can give them the ending they deserve.”
Gary Rowett on Villa and the Championship
“I’m expecting a very strong Aston Villa side with a lot of good players.
“They are a team that crosses the ball a lot and gets bodies in the box. They find lots of different ways to score.
“They’ve got a very experienced manager in Steve Bruce and players like Jack Grealish, who can cause you a lot of problems if you let him.
“It’s such an open division and it has swung and fluctuated more than you could imagine.
“It’s an exciting league – probably the most competitive in Europe.
“Half the battle is handling all the emotions and making sure you can affect the things that are important.
“For us, it is about maintaining that momentum and build on our own performance.
“We know what we’ve got to do – but that doesn’t make it any easier.”
12th January 2002 – Aston Villa 2 Derby 1
An opening goal from Darius Vassell was cancelled out by a strike from Derby’s Darryl Powell.
The lead was quickly restored by Juan Pablo Angel in an action packed first half, with no further goals in this Premier League encounter.
One to Watch
Matej Vydra – The Czech Republic striker has scored an impressive 21 goals this season.
Since his Villa debut in February, Grabban has netted seven goals in 13 league games – more than any other player for the club in that time.
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
Derby haven’t secured the play-off places yet and will be determined to keep themselves in the promotion mix.
Despite Villa’s good run of form, Derby saw off Cardiff in the week and look like they’re back to winning ways after recent struggles.
As Steve Bruce alluded to in his pre-match press conference, it’s easy to forget that Derby were in 2nd place earlier on in the season, recording a comfortable 2-0 win over Villa in the reverse fixture.
Over the last few games Villa have managed to cope with the pressure, but this is arguably the toughest game out of the recent matches…
“When you reach the end of the season and have something to play for, it’s never a bad thing, is it?” – BRUCE ON PROMOTION HOPES
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
It’s a testament to the Villa support that Saturday’s game is set to be a sell out, despite our decreasing hopes of automatic promotion.
This atmosphere will certainly boost our hopes of getting a positive result, which, given the statistics, were already quite promising.
We are currently on a 10 home league game winning run against Derby, last failing to beat them in 1988.
You have to go back to the 1988-89 campaign for the last time the Rams completed a league double over Villa, and Derby’s away form makes that occurrence look unlikely this weekend.
Rowett’s men have won only one of their last eight league games on the road, including losing the last two.
Villa, on the other hand, have won each of their last three home league games without conceding.
The Ipswich game was also a nice reminder of the depth of our squad, with neither Snodgrass or Adomah starting last Saturday’s game. A refreshed team with those two involved could be the difference this weekend, while Terry and Hutton could also return.
Even if second place is out of sight, a good result this weekend will be excellent preparation for the play-offs – Rowett’s men are of course one of the teams we could face.
In the end, this game will probably be nothing more than a tune-up game for the play-off game at Villa Park, but regardless, let’s keep picking up the points.