Venue: Villa Park
Date: Saturday 11th February 2017
Referee: Tim Robinson
Aston Villa: L L D L L
Ipswich Town: W L D L D
Last time the two teams met: 17th September 2016 – Ipswich Town 0-0 Aston Villa
An uneventful game finished scoreless.
It was another away game and another away defeat last time out for Bruce’s men so they will be delighted that they head back to their home environment for the visit of Ipswich Town.
Villa’s home form is a juxtaposition of their away form, as the Villans remain one of only five teams in the top four divisions to still be unbeaten at home this season. Tottenham Hotspur, Scunthorpe, Bradford City and Doncaster are the other teams that have managed to make it this far without tasting defeat on their own turf.
The Villans have relied on the form of Jonathan Kodjia to secure many of the points that they have accumulated this season and after he scored once again last weekend, the Ivory Coast international will be the one player most Villans’ hopes will be pinned on. Kodjia will no longer be the only one relied upon to score the goals. After new signing Scott Hogan impressed on his debut in the defeat to Nottingham Forest last Saturday, he is set to make his Villa Park bow.
The club’s hopes of a promising end to the season will depend on the partnership and awareness that the duo can strike up in the coming games.
Last weekend’s game turned on the stupidity of Jack Grealish’s petty dismissal. Had it not been for that, Aston Villa looked the more likely team to snatch all three points from the City Ground. The choice to play a 5-3-2 formation looked luke a good decision with the width of Bree and Bjarnason and the partnership of Kodjia and Hogan causing a lot of problems for the hosts in the first half. Bruce made a big call in not choosing Jordan Amavi to play the left wing back role after new signing Neil Taylor pulled out through illness and that will surely be a huge kick to the French defender, who has not been performing well in 2017 so far.
The visitors come into the game after picking up a decent point against promotion-chasing Reading but may be a little disappointed they did not take all three after leading twice at Portman Road. The Tractor Boys, managed by Mick McCarthy, will be no pushovers. Every Mick McCarthy side is set up the same and Ipswich Town will come and defend tight and make it hard for the Villa boys to cut through them. Even though Bruce will know what to expect, conquering that can be a real challenge.
Jack Grealish will miss the game due to the one-match suspension that he picked up for his sending off last Saturday.
The game once again comes too soon for Mile Jedinak, who is still suffering from the groin injury which has stopped him from participating in the last three games.
Jedinak is joined on the sidelines by Gabby Agbonlahor, who is suffering with a hamstring tear.
Neil Taylor has recovered from the illness which stopped him from making his debut against Nottingham Forest and is almost certain to come in at left back, with Bjarnason being moved into a central position alongside Conor Hourihane and Henri Lansbury.
McCarthy’s men are set to welcome back Cole Skuse, Myles Kenlock and Dominic Samuel after injury and ineligibility, although defender Tommy Smith will not be fit enough after recovery from back surgery.
Leading scorer Tom Lawrence and defender Christophe Berra are both set to be okay after minor foot and Achilles worries respectively.
One to watch:
Tom Lawrence (pictured) has been predatory for Ipswich Town since joining on loan from Leicester City in the summer, finding the net ten times in all competitions.
He is a striker who epitomises the work rate and ethics of a Mick McCarthy player. He tracks a lot of ground during a game but has that ability to be in the right place at the right time to score goals.
A lot of clubs have been rumoured to want to take him permanently at the end of the season and he will be one player McCarthy will want the hierarchy to keep at the club.