Can Steve Bruce continue his unbeaten run as Aston Villa manager? His club host lowly 23rd-place Blackburn Rovers at Villa Park.
Chalk this one up as a “should win” for Aston Villa Football Club. The club is six points behind a promotion playoff spot, making a home match-up against the 23rd placed team a near must win.
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Like clockwork, Villa will be slightly short handed when they face the former Premier League champions. Leandro Bacuna is out injured, as is fellow defender Micah Richards. Jordan Ayew will miss the match after picking up his fifth yellow card on the season.
Fortunately, Jack Grealish returns from his three match suspension. If match fit, expect him to start from the opening whistle.
Blackburn may be without key defender Charlie Mulgrew after he came off injured last weekend. As we covered here: on-loan striker Sam Gallagher is the key to Owen Coyle’s side.
Without further ado, our projected Aston Villa starting lineup:
PROJECTED ASTON VILLA XI (4-3-3): Gollini; Hutton, Chester, Baker, Amavi; Jedinak, Gardner, Westwood; Adomah, Kodjia, Grealish.
SUBSTITUTES: Bunn, Elphick, Cissokho, Tshibola, McCormack, Hepburn-Murphy, Gestede
Fairly standard 4-3-3 expected here. The staple formation thus far under Steve Bruce hasn’t always stayed rigid, but more fluid in its positioning.
However, with the personnel available for the weekend, this 4-3-3 should keep its shape. Jedinak will anchor while Westwood and Gardner control the pitch ahead of him–limiting Jedinak’s weakness in his mobility.
The back line should remain unchanged after an impressive run of form in the absence of captain Tommy Elphick.
The only natural wingers in the Aston Villa squad, Grealish and Adomah, will actually stay wide and create chances with the ball at their feet.
Jonathan Kodjia will look to make it four goals from five matches.
Still no place in the squad for Ross McCormack, but expect him to be the first man off the bench.
This should honestly be a very straightforward match for Aston Villa. I’m predicting a 3-1 home victory with goals from: Kodjia, Adomah, and McCormack.