Steve Bruce Puts On Brave Face Ahead of Trip to Portman Road

The Villa Appetiser: Ipswich v Aston Villa 2018

Last week saw two games in the space of a couple of days for Villa, and thankfully we took maximum points, to secure a play-off spot.

As Brentford’s late equaliser against Fulham showed, the final automatic spot hasn’t been settled yet, but with Fulham stretching their unbeaten run to 22 games, with an impressive 3-0 away win at Millwall, who themselves were 17 games unbeaten, it looks beyond Villa.

Bruce may still talk about aiming for second spot, but that was a conversation for his players, a few weeks ago, before they threw away games they should have won.

The reality is we’re playing out the end of the season, for the real business of the play-offs.

Given our recent patchy away form, Ipswich is a good opportunity to fine-tune our away form, before May’s events.



12th in the league table with the 12th best home record.

Last five matches at home: W 1, D 2, L 2 


4th in league table with 9th best away record.

Last five matches away: W 2, D 1, L 2     

Bryan Klug on debut Ipswich clash

“The players gave me and the Club everything.

“I couldn’t have asked for more at the end of what has been a traumatic week or so and maybe that took its toll at the end.

“I thought the game plan worked well and we had chances on the break in the second-half to have got a second goal.

“The penalty changed the game obviously and they got momentum from it but it was a real kick in the teeth to concede five seconds from the end.

“For 87 minutes, it was a performance Mick [McCarthy] would have been proud of in what was always going to be a difficult game for us, with only one training session with the players.

“It’s important we all move on now though and we can look forward to a great game against Aston Villa next week.”

Bruce on promotion hopes

“I still had to check this morning!

“For me, though, I just focus on the points total that we get. We’ve got 79 with three games to go, which isn’t far off the target that we set ourselves.

“As for the Play-Offs, I remember when I was with Hull and we went into them as the side without any momentum.

“Then we won the semi-final and the final. So there’s many permutations, but let’s focus on trying to get second and then we’ll deal with the Play-Offs.”

and on Ipswich

“Well it’ll be interesting without Mick McCarthy there. I’m disappointed with the way it’s finished for him.

“One thing you knew going to Ipswich under him, you knew you had to roll your sleeves up because you’d be facing a genuine, honest team.

“And they’re still his players, so will have big heart and work ethic. It’ll be difficult as always.”

Memory Match

9th September 2000 – Ipswich 1 Villa 2

Goals from Hendrie and Dublin secured the points in this Premier League encounter, watched by a crowd of just over 22,000.

A late goal from Marcus Stewart proved to be nothing more than a consolation.

One to Watch

Bersant Celina – The on-loan Manchester City man is set to be fit for Saturday’s clash and has scored seven league goals this season.

Embed from Getty Images

Grealish has been directly involved in a goal in his last three appearances – two goals and one assist.

Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet

We always seem to face teams who have had a recent managerial change. Or perhaps that’s just the nature of the Championship…or modern day football.

Although McCarthy was originally set to leave at the end of the season, he announced a more sudden departure after his side’s 1-0 win against Barnsley.

On the outside, it looked as if McCarthy was doing a decent job at Ipswich – he got the team in the play-offs a couple of seasons ago and had little in the way of resources to work with – but frustration from the fans meant it was probably time to leave.

So what does that mean for Villa?

Ipswich’s care-taker manager Bryan Klugg’s first game saw a 2-1 loss away at Forest with two unfortunate late goals securing victory for the home side, but Klugg was pleased with how Ipswich played.

The situation for Saturday’s opponents means that the players will be eager to impress any new managerial candidates who may be observing, and Ipswich’s physical style of play is one that Villa often seem to struggle against.

As well as this, Kodjia will miss Saturday’s match, an unfortunate absence as he has looked lively in recent appearances.

There’s also the small matter of our away form. After winning back-to-back away games against Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland, we haven’t won any of the last three games on our travels…

“We’ve got 79 points with three games to go, which isn’t far off the target that we set ourselves” – bruce on promotion hopes

Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag

Villa recorded a pretty comfortable 2-0 win against Ipswich at Villa Park earlier this season, and recent encounters are pretty encouraging.

The Tractor Boys haven’t won in six home matches against Villa (in all competitions), drawing two of those, and losing four times. The last two have been goalless.

Villa on the other hand have won eight of the last 11 against Ipswich in all competitions, drawing two, and losing the other.

After admitting previous mistakes regarding team rotation, Bruce changed the team around a little for last week’s two home games and it did the trick. He has a good record against Ipswich too, and has won each of his last three visits to Portman Road (in all competitions).

On paper, it’s a game we should be winning. One telling statistic that gives support to the Ipswich fans who felt McCarthy had to go is that Town have managed just 137 shots on target in the league this season. That’s the third fewest after Bolton, with 135, and Burton, 106.

The return of John Terry will also help matters too, although Jedinak did well in his absence.

A Villa win will keep their mathematical chances of 2nd place open for one more week, although ultimately, it will just make Bruce and players kick themselves more for poor performances last week.

Imagine how much more exciting these final couple of weeks of the season would have been, with four to six points from those games against QPR, Bolton and Norwich.


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