You’d fancy this Aston Villa team to win home or away.
During Villa’s recent 10-game winning run, where the game was being played became academic, so WBA perhaps won’t be so gung-ho this evening, when it comes to trying to turnaround the 2-1 deficit they now face at the Hawthorns in the play-off semi-final.
With Dean Smith very much preparing to go for the win on the night, West Brom will have to factor in trying to contain Villa yet again, as they go about trying to get a goal back. They were successful in nullifying John McGinn at Villa Park and did a reasonable job on containing Jack Grealish, until the later stages of the game.
The fact the Albion are now missing Dwight Gayle, who’s scored 24-goals this season, will be like being 3-1 down in some respects. He was certainly the Baggies main threat at Villa Park, and Tyrone Mings will be a relieved man that he isn’t facing Gayle again.
For West Brom, the approach of keeping it tight and trying to peg back that one-goal deficit on the counter perhaps is no longer a viable option with the suspension of Gayle. The Baggies striker would have been perfect for that task, yet now you’d expect the home team to open up more, especially in the second half, which will suit Villa.
The Albion have just a 33% win rate without Gayle in all competitions this season (four wins from 12 games), compared to a 54% win rate with him in the side (22 wins from 41 games).
Still, you have to remember Liverpool managed to overhaul a 3-0 deficit against arguably the best team in the world in Barcelona, without their main man Mo Salah, so West Brom are still very much in this tie.
It’s a cliche, but the next goal could be key and certainly shape the type of game we’ll get.
If the game stays tight and gets feisty at any stage, it’ll also be important for Villa’s players to keep their heads, as getting past West Brom is only part of the promotion task. They don’t want the suspension of key players come the final at Wembley.
In the latest edition of the My Old Man Said podcast – episode 73 – we look back at the first leg and see what clues it provides us for the second leg at the Hawthorns.
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Episode 73 Show Notes
One leg down, one leg to go. Aston Villa hold a slight advantage from the first leg of the Championship play-off semi-final at Villa Park against West Bromwich Albion. David and Chris are joined by Max Stokes (Villa On Tour) to discuss all the major talking points of the game, as well as looking ahead to the crunch second leg.
Whelan or Hourihane?
3-1 or Dwlight Gayle being suspended?
What happened to Tyrone Mings and John McGinn?
Conor Hourihane’s role in this Villa team
Steer & Johnstone
Villa party boats and lots more.
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