Venue: Villa Park
Date: Monday 26th December 2016
Referee: Stephen Martin
Aston Villa: W L W L W
Burton Albion: D W L L L
Last time the two teams met: 14th July 2012 – Burton 1 – 2 Aston Villa
The two sides have never met in competitive action but the Villans did beat the Brewers in a pre-season friendly ae they prepared for the 2012-13 Premier League season.
After last weekend’s morale boosting victory against Queens Park Rangers, Steve Bruce’s boys head back to Villa Park, where they will hope to keep their unbeaten home record going against Burton Albion.
With Villa Park set to be rocking given the raucous atmosphere of the first sell out crowd of the season, announced on Saturday, the Villans will need to cope with the expectant eyes of more than 42,000 spectators, something that will be a new experience for many of the current batch.
Those players new to the club this season will never have seen Villa Park full and those who were involved in the last couple of seasons will never have played in the sold out stadium with the crowd expecting them to cruise to victory.
The side’s form at B6 has been spectacular given that the Villans had not been able to buy a victory in front of their own fans prior to the start of this season. The last two home games against teams they have been expected to sweep aside – Blackburn Rovers and Wigan Athletic – have been nail-biting encounters that the hosts made hard work of. In fact, in the latter game it took a piece of magic from the boot of Jack Grealish to separate the two sides.
Instrumental in the impressive home run has been Jonathan Kodjia. Now on eight goals for the season, the striker has shown why the club splashed out over £11 million for his services in the summer. With his ability to single-handedly create chances, as well as use his predatory instincts to finish chances that he is given, he has shown why Aston Villa Football Club’s chances of pushing for promotion this season weigh heavily on his shoulders at present.
The visitors will come to Villa Park on the back of the three poor results and the manager will be looking for a response from his players in a game which he hopes will not overwhelm them.
Nigel Clough’s side has had a mixed season so far in their first ever campaign in the Championship but, with the side nearing the half way point of the season, the fans will be happy that they are on just the right side of the dotted line.
They will come to Villa Park and look to be defensively solid and then hopefully grab a goal on the counter attack, so it could be another frustrating afternoon for the Villa players if they are left to try and unpick the lock of the Staffordshire side’s defence.
Bruce is likely to keep the same side that started in the victory last weekend after his decision to make six changes paid off.
Jack Grealish was one of the players who missed out last weekend and, with the style of game that it looks like being on Boxing Day, he may be given another chance by the manager to showcase the creativity that he has.
The visitors look likely to have their entire squad fit and ready for the trip after Hamza Choudhury, Lee Williamson and Stuart Beavon all seem to have shaken off injuries in time.
One to watch:
Irvine (pictured) is a dangerous attacking midfielder, who has found the net seven times already this season for the Brewers.
Signed from Ross County in the summer, the Australian midfielder has hit the ground running in the Championship and is currently Burton Albion’s top scorer this season.
A fellow countryman of Villa’s Mile Jedinak, the Villa side will no doubt have been briefed by the Australian captain on how influential Irvine can be.
The towering midfielder has played mostly on the wing and will be looking to cause Hutton and Amavi problems down each side when he gets the opportunity. Given his size, he is also a very dangerous player when the ball is crossed from the opposite side as he is normally significantly taller than his marker.