The Villa Appetiser: Aston Villa v QPR 2018
Villa’s 4-1 win against table-toppers Wolves at the weekend pretty much announced the beginning of the business end of the battle for automatic promotion between Villa, Wolves, Cardiff and Fulham.
If Villa don’t beat QPR at Villa Park though, the Wolves result will mean very little. Fulham are breathing down Villa’s neck with a relatively easy run-in, while Cardiff City are holding tight in a top two berth.
After the QPR game had previously been snowed off, it now provides Villa with a chance to extend the gap over Fulham to four points and also close-in on Cardiff City, if they slip up on their tricky trip to Brentford on the same night.
For the original fixture date, QPR had sneaked into town a day earlier to use Birmingham City’s practice pitches, but it looks like karma bit them in the bum, as the snow fell.
Holloway will once again talk the talk, but when it comes to his visits to Villa Park in recent years, he’s found out that it hasn’t been enough.
3rd in the league table with the 2nd best home record.
Last five matches at home: W 4, D 1
16th in league table with 21st best away record.
Last five matches away: W 1, L 4
Steve Bruce on QPR
“After not the best of starts at the beginning of the season, we’ve been pretty consistent.
“One thing you need to be able to do in this division is roll your sleeves up and have a go.
“And the one thing we’ve tried to repair here is the supporters connecting with the team.
“We’ve seen an association between the team and its supporters of late.
“It can only be a good thing. They’re starting to enjoy their team again. That’s important.
“Results like last week can only help that.”
“[QPR] were beaten badly last week, so we’ll have to be aware of that.
“Being the manager that he is, Ian Holloway will demand a response and we’ll have to be at our best.
“We know they’ll pose us a threat, and as always we’ll have to play well on the day.”
Ian Holloway on turning around poor form
“It’s about about going back to doing your jobs, getting your jobs right, being hard to score against and being hard to beat.
“We’ve looked like that at times, but I feel the lack of finishing our opportunities off has made the defenders a bit nervous.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries, but they are nearly all back now, so where do we go next?”
“Life is about getting back up off the floor and going again,” Holloway said. “I don’t want to look backwards, I want to look forwards.
Holloway on Villa
“There will be loads of running and loads spaces which we have to fill to beat them.
“I believe we can beat them, but not if we play like we did [against Forest].”
“Villa are riding the crest of a wave. And we know it will be a tough game, like they all are in this division.
“We’ll need to soak up what they do in a positive way – and then impose ourselves when we’re in possession.”
Robert Snodgrass has had a hand in NINE goals in his last TEN home league matches for us – that’s two goals, and six assists
9th March 1996 – Aston Villa 4 QPR 1
A goal from Savo Milosevic and two from Dwight Yorke (as well as a QPR own goal) helped Villa to victory in this 90’s Premier League encounter.
QPR boss Holloway played in midfield for the visitors on this occasion, which was watched by just over 28,000 fans.
One to Watch
Matt Smith – The Birmingham-born striker has scored and assisted in four of his last six Championship starts for QPR (three goals, four assists).
steve bruce has won nine of his last ten league matches against QPR
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
Like the British weather recently, the Championship is unpredictable.
Bruce alluded to the surprising inclusion of teams such as Bristol City and Sheffield United in the promotion battle this season, while the 1-1 draw against Preston at Villa Park was a timely reminder that you can’t win every game at home.
With just five more home games to go, we really need to be winning every match if we are to keep pace with Cardiff, who are set for a tricky away tie at Brentford at the same time as the QPR game.
QPR will make it difficult for Villa, after picking up some confidence from their 1-1 draw with Derby and 1-0 win over Sunderland at home.
For the original fixture, they were coming to Villa Park off the back of a 5-2 home defeat against Forest, so they should be in a better place mentally.
“We’ve seen an association between the team and its supporters of late” – BRUCE ON villa
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
There have been some crazy games against QPR at Villa Park over the years, but we generally have a very good record against them.
We’ve won six of our last eight home league games against this weekend’s opponents, drawing the other two. As well as this, we’ve won our last three matches against them in all competitions, so there’s reasons to be cheerful.
The last time QPR recorded a victory at Villa Park was a League Cup match in September 2008 when they won 1-0.
Away form has been an issue for Holloway’s men. Since he re-joined the London club in November 2016, they have lost 20 Championship away matches – more than any other club. In their last five away matches they recorded just three points in a win at Burton Albion.
In the opposite dugout, Bruce has a very encouraging record against QPR. He’s won nine of his last ten league matches against QPR (drawing once) since losing against them as Huddersfield manager in 1999.
With Adomah & Grealish returning and back into their groove against Wolves, and Grabban’s proving to be a proper goalscorer, the signs are good ahead of Tuesday’s match.
If Bruce elects to freshen things up slightly, expect Birkir Bjarnason to start. Judging by his wonder goal against Wolves, he’s dying to get involved.