Tis’ the ides of January. Villa sit firmly in the abyss known only as the “mid-table”, comfortably clear of the relegation zone, and frustratingly out of immediate reach of the top 6. This is the portion of the schedule that the boys need wins to make the top 6, and one of those is going to have to come against red-hot Hull City.
The last time these two teams faced each other was the opening match of the season, which saw a decidedly different Steve Bruce led Villa side dispatch a helpless Hull City 3-1. For reference, here was the lineup (4-5-1) that faced Hull that day at the KC Stadium:
GK – Jed Steer
LB – Neil Taylor
CB – James Chester
CB – Tommy Elphick
RB – Alan Hutton
LM – Albert Adomah
LCM – Connor Hourihane
RCM – Glenn Whelan
RM – Ahmed Elmohamady
CAM – Jack Grealish
ST – Jonathan Kodjia
Who would’ve thought at this point in the season, given all that we now know about the team and their defensive struggles that the majority of players that will feature in both Hull fixtures are those that started along the back line on Matchday 1. Taylor and Chester are guaranteed starters, Elphick is more than likely starting, and Hutton very well could start ahead of James Bree (albeit not a probability). Hourihane will also start, and I’d imagine Whelan will get the nod as well. There are enough opening day starters with plenty of experience together to right the ship against a team that they’ve already beaten soundly once this campaign.
Hull City might just be the hottest team in the Championship right now.
Here are some stats from their last 10 (followed by Villa):
W-D-L: 7-2-1 GF: 23 GA: 9 GD: +14 Shots: 120 SOG: 61 Shots Allowed: 154 SOG Allowed: 39
W-D-L: 3-5-2 GF: 22 GA: 20 GD: +2 Shots: 147 SOG: 54 Shots Allowed: 120 SOG Allowed: 52
Tale of the tape there is that Hull are playing with very positive efficiency, compared to Aston Villa. Ultimately, I believe that comes down solely to focus and effort. Under Dean Smith, the lads have shown both in great flashes, but it has not been quite consistent yet. It’s time to dig back into the annals of the season and remember the team and the match in which Aston Villa triumphed 3-1 over Hull City. The players that were present for that game need to step up and provide that focus and effort that the team require, or we will certainly fall victim to the newfound efficiency of Hull City.