Villa Can Challenge and it’s a ‘Sexy Fixture’ says Mick McCarthy

The Villa Appetiser: Ipswich Town v Aston Villa 2016

When Brentford scored their equaliser on Wednesday, the worst part was how predictable it was.

The more we drop points, the less likely promotion appears to be. Sure, it’s early in the season, but look at Newcastle and Norwich.

A trip to Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich might not be as glamorous as the ex-Wolves boss says it is, but it’s a tough looking fixture, especially if Di Matteo continues to try and play all of his attackers at once…

While the bookies predict an Aston Villa win the team don’t look like they have the resilience to pick up an away win at the moment, but can Villa begin an upturn in form this weekend?

McCarthy on Villa

“It’s easy to fall out of the Premier League. I don’t know why.

“They finished sixth three times under Martin O’Neill, he left and they were spiralling downwards from then on until we’re playing them on Saturday.

“But it makes for a sexy fixture. Ipswich against Aston Villa – I think that’s a great tie.

“I would think (they can challenge) because of the size of the club and the players they’ve got.

“But every time teams play them, it becomes a bigger game than, with the greatest respect, Barnsley, Preston, Birmingham or Ipswich.”

Di Matteo on Ipswich

“They are a team that will play a lot of crosses into the box.

“There’s going to be a big fight for second balls.

“We need to be ready for that – to be able to deal with the first ball and the second ball.

“But also we need to realise that when we are in control of the ball that we do what we do best. We have our own threats too.”

Ipswich HAVE scored just four goals in their last seven games (in all competitions)

Memory Match

05 January 2013 Villa 2 Ipswich 1

Goals from Bent and Weimann secured FA Cup progress the last time the teams met.

Ipswich – Last five matches at home: W 3, D 2

Villa– Last five matches away: D 1, L 4

One to Watch

Grant Ward – The ex-Tottenham winger scored a hat-trick against Barnsley on his debut earlier this season.

Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet

Mick McCarthy has done a good job at Ipswich. Without spending much money, his team have spent much of the last couple of years towards the top of the table.

Unbeaten in their last five league games at Portman Road (W3, D2), they’ll be fairly confident against Villa, disappointingly 17th.

Clearly McCarthy has made Portman Road something of a fortress. If only Villa could have some sort of solidity – we’ve dropped seven points in the last five minutes of matches this season.

We keep hearing how many more points there are to play for, and that’s a fair point, but a good start would have created momentum.

Instead, we have failed to win during our last five Championship matches, and we all know about our away record. (In case you needed reminding, a visit Bournemouth, the first game of last season, was our last away victory…)

In addition to conceding late goals, we now have injury problems in the form of De Laet and McCormack. De Laet, who is out for the season, looked a solid upgrade in the right-back department. He will be a big loss.

Only in the Forest game have we scored after conceding. There’s usually not many goals when teams play Ipswich these days – there have been under 2.5 goals scored in 5 of Ipswich’s last 6, so it could be a tight, cagey affair.

“It makes for a sexy fixture. Ipswich against Aston Villa – I think that’s a great tie” – MICK MCCARTHY

Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag

Unlike some of the teams we’ve played so far this season, Ipswich have been more regular opponents of Villa in recent years. We had a good record against them in the most recent, the Premier League era, and in the last 10 league encounters, we lost just once

In fact, you have to go back to the 1980’s for the last time the Tractor Boys beat Villa at home in the league. They’ve drawn three times and lost four since then.

Ipswich’s admirable resilience has come with some cost, and they’ve scored just four goals in their last seven games (in all competitions). During this time, they never scored more than once.

Their Portman Road record is impressive, but during their last five home league games, they’ve only kept one clean sheet. Surely the likes of Kodjia, who was one of few positives against Brentford, will be too much for the home side to handle?

There’s usually a strange statistic to be found and sure enough, there’s a pattern to be found in Villa’s historic wins over Ipswich. Our last four wins against the Tractor Boys (in all competitions) have been by a 2-1 scoreline.

Weirdly, each of the last three victorious occasions have seen us concede the first goal. This statistical curiosity actually sounds quite accurate given our lack of clean sheets, and at least it’s an encouraging sign.

Despite our injury situation, we have Grealish and Tshibola in contention for a return, as well as the prospect of an Adomah debut to give us something to be excited about.

If Villa can improve defensively, and if Di Matteo picks a more balanced side, a counter-attacking game could suit us.

With history on our side for once, perhaps this might be Villa’s turning point.


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