Steve Bruce Has Worrying Record but Preston’s Injuries Could be Key

The Villa Appetiser: Preston v Aston Villa 2017

Villa weren’t at their best on Sunday, but a second half improvement (with those agonisingly close late chances) did offer some encouragement ahead of a tough mid-week fixture.

The shrewd appointment of Alex Neil has helped Preston push for the play-offs, but they’ve dropped points over the last few weeks, and lost at home on Saturday.

Villa could have more options available thanks to those returning from injury, so it will be interesting to see how much squad rotation is employed, with another game coming up this weekend.

It will be an intriguing battle – can we continue our decent away form?

Bruce on momentum

“You’re always a little disappointed when you don’t take all three.

“But the momentum stays with us.

“We’ve got another big game on Wednesday against Preston, who have a 24-hour recovery on us.

“That’s what we’re up against.”

and on 3 games in a week, and Preston

“It’s what the Championship is.

“We’ve put ourselves in a decent position.

“The winter’s upon us and the yellow balls are now here.

“It’s all to play for.

“They’re big, physical.

“We know what to expect.

“They’ve had a good start to the season.

“It’s never easy at Preston away and it won’t be easy on Wednesday night.”

Memory Match

1st October 2016 Preston 2 Aston Villa 0

Goals from Pearson and Hugill saw off Villa – McCormack missed a late penalty too.

Preston – Last five matches at home: W 1, D 3, L 1

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

One to Watch

Daniel Johnson – The ex-Villa man is a mainstay in the Preston midfield.

Embed from Getty Images

Villa have won just one of our last 15 away league games in the month of November

Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet

It wasn’t the greatest performance on Sunday against Blues, but at least we didn’t lose, and we had some decent chances towards the end of the game.

Having sustained an ankle injury in the derby, it’s likely Kodjia will not feature on Wednesday.

Our recent history against our fellow founding members of the football league has been decidedly average.

Last season was our first encounter with Preston at Deepdale for decades, and it’s a game that probably still gives Di Matteo nightmares. The 2-0 defeat proved to be his final game in charge.

It wasn’t much better in the clash at Villa Park with Preston coming back from 2-0 down to draw.

With ex-Norwich man Alex Neil doing well as Simon Grayson’s replacement, it will be another tricky game in a short space of time for Villa.

As Bruce mentioned, that’s the nature of the Championship (his favourite quote). But his personal record away at Preston is slightly worrying – he’s lost all three managerial visits to Deepdale, twice with Blues, and once with Hull.

If that wasn’t enough, Villa have won just one of our last 15 away league games in the month of November…

“The winter’s upon us and the yellow balls are now here – It’s all to play for” – steve BRUCE

Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag

While Kodjia’s likely absence will be a loss, we will at least have Taylor back, although Hutton has done OK in the makeshift left-back role.

Preston have got real problems with their injuries, however. While regulars Clarke and Cunningham are out for extended periods, Preston will also have to make do without Ben Davies, Tommy Spurr and captain Paul Huntington.

All in, Preston’s defence that was impressive at the start of the season, will be seriously weakened for Villa’s visit.

Preston started the season well but now find themselves in ninth place, and 18th in the overall form table. They haven’t won at home for six weeks. After a 2-2 draw against Sunderland and a 0-0 against Millwall, a 2-3 defeat at Deepdale at the hands of Brentford will not have acted as good preparation for the arrival of Villa – one of the league’s in-form teams. After the last few seasons it does feel strange to write that…

0-0 against the Blues was a disappointing result at the weekend but at least we looked decent in the second half, where the introduction of Davis and Jedinak improved Villa’s play. Both could feature on Wednesday, and with another game on Saturday, the added squad depth due to players returning from injury will be a big help.

With Villa likely to stick with the 4-3-3, Davis will probably be given the nod over Scott Hogan, who has now failed to score in 818 Championship minutes. Having said that, he scored his only Football League hat-trick against Preston for Brentford just over a year ago, so he could make an impact!

Having picked up 23 points from the opening 14 matches, Villa have made their best start to a league season since 2008/09 (24 points). Yes it’s a different league these days, but at least it’s a sign we’re heading in the right direction!

It’s a difficult game to predict, but Villa have been pretty resilient on the road of late. Hopefully we can get the three points to maintain our place in the top six.


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  1. If it’s true that Preston have defensive problems, why play Davis alone up front, why not take it to them and play OHare up front with him, it wasn’t that long ago when Bruce told us that he prefers 2 up front so come on let’s forget this negative defensive stuff and start playing like a team that can tear the opposition up. Goals win games.

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