Aston Villa drew with Blackburn Rovers on Saturday evening, another disappointing display from Steve Bruce & team this season. Here are my three thoughts.
In what kind of feels like a delaying of the inevitable, Aston Villa, or more aptly Steve Bruce, was rescued by Conor Hourihane’s beautiful free-kick deep in extra time. At Ewood Park, the claret and blues looked like the inferior team for far longer than should be allowed against a mid-table side. Moreover, more curious tactical decisions continued as Jack Grealish was moved to left-midfield during Rovers’ opener, while Yannick Bolasie came on too late, and Anwar El Ghazi didn’t appear at all.
1. Mile Jedinak is still Villa’s best No. 6
It finally happened! Steve Bruce moved Mile Jedinak out of centre-half while Axel Tuanzebe moved centrally. The move played dividends as the Manchester United loanee played a better game than Jedinak had all season at the position. Jedi, himself, wasn’t too shabby, earning a 6.5 in the player ratings. With Birkir Bjarnason a healthy scratch and Glenn Whelan on the bench, the Australia international can once more make the position his.
His aerial ability is but one reason Villa didn’t concede a set piece, even if some of the fouls were his.
2. It is painful watching Villa try to score from open play
It’s like pulling teeth watching Aston Villa try to score under Bruce.
Everything feels like it needs to be a set piece from John McGinn or a cross from the wing by any wide player that seemingly struggles at crossing the ball.
Tammy Abraham should help, of course. As will a fit Yannick Bolasie and Anwar El Ghazi. Adding Jonathan Kodjia to the equation in two-strike partnership could ignite a deadly attack. “Could” being the important qualifier.
3. Aston Villa need to absolutely hammer Rotherham on Tuesday to gain any semblance of confidence
Rotherham did Villa a favor by beating Derby County on Saturday. Next, they travel to Villa Park midweek. If the home side doesn’t win, and win by a fairly wide margin, Steve Bruce will need to go immediately.
Tuesday’s match with the Millers is an absolute must-win as Villa are stuck with one win through seven league matches. That’s not far from the form that got Roberto Di Matteo sacked in October 2016.