The Villa Appetiser: Aston Villa v Reading 2017
We’ve had some tricky home fixtures of late against teams in the league’s top ten, and this is set to continue with the arrival of Reading.
Jaap Stam’s men are on the back of a horrible 7-1 away loss against Norwich but are still eyeing a return to the Premier League.
Villa still might as well aim to finish high but the last couple of results have been unconvincing.
Can we record a SIXTH consecutive home win?
Bruce on his first Villa win (against Reading) and squad selection
“I remember the joy.
“I had not realised the stat of 14 months not winning away from home.
“There was the joy of the supporters but really the staff here, the medical department and all the rest of it, who had travelled up and down the country on a bus and never got a result for all that time.
“I would like to think me walking through the door was a turning point, not just what happened at Reading. But that is for the future. The game itself now seems a lifetime ago, yet it was only five or six months ago.
“There is a little bit of me saying let’s finish on a high, there is a little of wanting to give the kids a chance.
“Then there is a little bit of me saying the lads are doing well at the minute and have earned the right to be in there.
“I will ponder it. Let’s not forget we have got all pre-season, which is a hugely important time.
“I don’t want to upset the balance at the minute because the team are playing well. It’s important we keep the feelgood factor going a little bit. We all know how important next season is. It would be nice to finish with a flourish.”
Bruce on strange results
“I said a few weeks ago, the tickly bit was here. We have seen some strange results, none more so than that one.
“If you ever need reminding of what can happen in this league when you take your eye off the ball, there it is.”
Stam on bouncing back
“It’s never easy when you lose a game heavily (7-1!), but we need to go forward and there’s no reason to dwell on it.
“Hopefully our results will see us end up in the top six and that’s what we’re trying to achieve.
“We’re facing a team in Aston Villa with a lot of quality and a big squad, who change their approach quite easily.
“We can expect a hard and tough game in how they can play with quality and pace.”
27th November 2012 Villa 1 Reading 0
A Benteke header secured the points the last time we played Reading at Villa Park.
Villa – Last five matches at home: W 5
Reading – Last five matches away: W 1, L 4
One to Watch
Yann Kermorgant – the 35-year-old French forward is Reading’s top scorer this season
reading have never won at villa park
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
While our unbeaten run goes on, the last couple of performances haven’t been quite as eye-catching – Burton could have won the game last Saturday, while QPR saw plenty of the ball in the last Villa Park game.
Villa, to their credit, dared to dream of a play-off place, and this saw an impressive run of form. But while the desire to finish the season strongly remains, you can’t help but wonder now that any play-off miracle is over, if Villa’s players focus will slip.
It looks (thankfully) like Kodjia will be back but our reliance on him is concerning – we looked lost without our top scorer at Burton.
You wouldn’t have thought a team who have just lost 7-1 would be much to fear, but Reading are still 4th in the table, despite recent poor away form.
With another game on Monday, it will be interesting to see how Villa approach Saturday’s game, against a Reading side with a point to prove and plenty to play for.
“We’re facing a team in Aston Villa with a lot of quality and a big squad, who change their approach quite easily” – stam on villa
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
Reading gave Bruce his first victory as Villa boss, and our first away win since the first game of our last Premier League season.
When we won at the Madejski Stadium we were the first to do so this season, a blip in their home form which has generally been very good this season.
Their journey to return to the Premier League since the 2012/13 season has been hampered by their recent away record.
Reading have lost four of their last five away games, with heavy defeats to Brighton, Preston, and of course Norwich.
In that 7-1 thrashing last weekend, the Royals conceded more goals than they had in the previous six combined (five).
Reading will be seeking their first ever away victory at Villa – they’ve lost during the previous five visits.
Kodjia should be available for selection despite injury last weekend, and while he has now matched his 19 goal tally for Bristol City last season, another goal would see him match the last Villa player to score 20 league goals in a season – Peter Withe in 1980-81 (although that was in the top tier).
Talking of matching impressive records, a win for Villa would mean we’d won six in a row at home for the first time since 1993.
After our win earlier in the season, Reading’s Jaap Stam said “There was only one team trying to play football and that was us.”
Villa, who have won 10 out of 11 of our league meetings with Reading, can hopefully play some decent football to prove a point and give fans hope for next season.
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The best way to prepare for the game? Listen to this…