A lot has been said about Aston Villa’s riches in the forward department. Trying to fit them all in the first XI seemed to be a task previous Villa boss Roberto Di Matteo was literally trying to pull off. There seems to be big question mark of who should start with a poor goal return overall from them so far this season.
The Blues derby certainly added further question marks for Steve Bruce to answer with suspensions, injuries and also a surprise return. All of which are recapped below.
Jordan Ayew picked up his fifth yellow card of the season and will miss the game against Blackburn Rovers this forthcoming weekend. Ayew has subbed on the 81st minute for Gabby Abonlahor after a patchy game against the Blues.
Ayew’s suspension is perhaps good news for Jack Grealish, who you’d expect to slot in on the left-hand side after completing his own three-match suspension for stamping. It was expected that Grealish might not walk straight back into the team, but Ayew’s suspension is certainly a stroke of luck for him.
Villa winger Albert Adomah looks very doubtful for the forthcoming game against Blackburn Rovers, after leaving the Second City derby with a dead leg.
Adomah hasn’t really had a chance to impress the Villa faithful, so we’ll have to wait even longer now.
Leandro Bacuna also out with a “tweaked groin”, which is expected to keep him out for two to three weeks, Bruce may have a selection headache on the right-hand side.
Kodjia struggled to impose himself on the Blues defence and the game was the first one he hasn’t scored in since Steve Bruce took over.
Blues boss Gary Rowett wasn’t exactly impressed with the Ivory Coast international’s tendency to stay down after challenges too.
“I just said to him, ‘You’re a big lad and this is the sixth time you’ve been on the floor’,” said Rowett, after the match.
“He could have walked off with sheer embarrassment at one point, but hey, I’d do exactly the same.”
Is it something Kodjia was guilty of? Or was he under instructions to kill time (unlikely)?
It will be interesting to see with Adomah’s injury, if Kodjia will switch to a more right-hand side position with Gestede coming in to play as a central striker in the next match.
Perhaps the biggest surprise from the weekend’s derby was the re-emergence of Gabby Agbonlahor in a Villa shirt. The last thing we knew was he had started a six-week fitness programme, so nobody expected him to have any chance of being available until about a month’s time.
So, why did Steve Bruce put him in the squad? Several injuries and suspensions made the decision easier, but it seems rather odd, considering Gabby’s previous and current fitness.
“We’ve got him on a programme that he’s only two weeks into, but he’s working very hard, said Bruce, after the game. “He’s spent more hours on the training ground than I have over the last two weeks.
“We’re not getting carried away but these are the first little shoots of recovery. The rest is up to him.”
Considering the money spent on the strikeforce over the summer, particularly on Ross McCormack and Jonathan Kodjia, the fact that Agbonlahor is even being considered, means Bruce isn’t 100% convinced by Villa’s new forward recruits.
It’s a bizarre one and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out and if Agbonlahor can still make a contribution.
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