The Villa Appetiser: Reading v Aston Villa 2016
It wasn’t the result we needed against Wolves, and Bruce has properly seen how difficult a job he has on his hands.
The new manager had only had a couple of days to prepare for his first Villa game, and hasn’t had much more time for Tuesday’s encounter.
We’ve faired reasonably well against Reading in the past, but it’s a new league and a new atmosphere. With Villa’s edgy performances, it looks a tough fixture on paper against a team unbeaten at home.
Steve Bruce couldn’t deliver three points at Villa Park – can he get a long-overdue win away?
Stam on Villa
“It’s always nice to play in front of a lot of fans.
“It’s still not a sell out and it would be nice too if it was a sell out on Tuesday especially against a team like Villa.
“They will bring a lot of their own fans, so we will need the support of the home fans.
“They do it well every game and hopefully they can back us again on Tuesday to help us give it our best shot at winning the game.
“Every game that we play we try to win, if we play a side like Villa on the Tuesday it’s not going to be easy.
“They’ve spent a lot of money and invested a lot of money in players and trying to build a team that has a chance of promotion to the Premier League.
“It won’t be easy for them either. They’ve got a new manager and they’ll want a result.
“They want to make it difficult for us, but we want to win our home games and play our style of football even against a good team like Villa.”
Bruce on Villa mentality
“The hardest part I have had in management has been getting over a relegation. It’s very, very difficult.
“We have now only won four games in 55 matches – which is an alarming statistic.
“It’s my job to find a formula to win, find a formula to be successful in the Championship.
“We have decent players here who are finding it difficult with the weight of expectation.
“We have to turn that around – that’s why I am here.
“That’s why I hope I will be here in a few years because we have to turn that around and stop the slide. A couple of wins would do that.
“I can understand now why they concede late. It’s blatantly obvious.
“We will go to work on that but it’s difficult in this league because obviously we play again on Tuesday.
“We will do absolutely everything we possibly can to make us better equipped to play in the Championship.
“To play in the Championship now you have to have to have an intensity to your play just like in the big league.”
READING HAVEN’T LOST AT HOME IN THE LEAGUE SINCE APRIL
9th March 2013 Reading 1 Aston Villa 2
Goals from Benteke and Agbonlahor secured three vital points after an early Baker own goal.
Reading – Last five matches at home: W 2, D 3
Villa– Last five matches away: D 3, L 2
One to Watch
Mid-week fixtures always serve to remind us just how difficult the Championship is. Not so much the quality of opposition, but more the physical effort required – something a little worrying in light of Steve Bruce’s comments on the team’s fitness.
Of course it doesn’t help that as a newly-relegated team, opponents seem to give 110% to get the bragging rights, and Reading are anticipating a bumper crowd as Villa head to the Madejski.
In addition to that, Reading have got impressive home form and the job looks difficult. They’re unbeaten in all competitions at home this season, and haven’t lost on their own turf since April.
It’s been a long time since Villa boasted any comparable form either at home or away, so we won’t bother mentioning how long it’s been since we recorded three away points.
We’re the draw specialists, and to make matters worse, we’ll likely be without captain Tommy Elphick.
It could be another cagey game as Stam meets Bruce – the battle of two ex-Man United centre-backs…
“I can understand now why they concede late. It’s blatantly obvious” – bruce on villa’s problems
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
Seeing Bacuna and Ayew on the bench on Saturday was disappointing, but necessary given the international break.
While Elphick and Richards will miss Tuesday night’s game, at least we’ll have the options of the two above, who have been pretty decent in the Championship so far.
Bruce will have a lot more challenges to deal with this season, not least Grealish’s three-game ban, but it does seem that Bruce is learning quickly.
Villa have usually done quite well against Reading in the past – we haven’t lost against them since 2007, and we’ve recorded victories in our last five encounters with them.
One can’t help but think of the last time we met Reading in the league, a six-pointer in 2013. We needed a win to avoid a plunge into the relegation mix – some things never change.
Despite the horrors of the second half against Wolves, there were minor positives to take from the defensive display, although perhaps luck was on our side.
We’ve scored at least two goals in our last three away matches against Reading, a good omen considering our lack of goalscoring chances against Wolves!
It would be a huge psychological boost to get rid of the unwanted away record.
Let’s hope Bruce can kickstart a winning run for Villa on Tuesday – the play-offs are still in sight, after all. Just…