Many words have been attached to Aston Villa over the last few years. Relegation, promotion, false dawn and who can forget the infamous ‘season of transition’. It feels like it’s been one of those annually.
However, going into tomorrow’s fixture against Nottingham Forest, the words momentum and consistency are perhaps the key.
Despite the poor performances and negative styles of play early in the season, Villa find themselves going into the game on the back of a five game unbeaten streak in the Championship with three clean sheets in the last three games.
I came away from Oakwell last week feeling rejuvenated and it’s a feeling I haven’t felt for a long time. On the face of things a 3-0 away win was more than we could have asked for after the frustrating start we have had and our dreadful case of travel sickness in previous seasons. The players were given more freedom to attack and Albert Adomah had arguably his best game in a Villa shirt.
Keinan Davis had a supporting striker and looked like he was brimming with confidence, going on to head home his first goal for te club. His strike partner Jonathan Kodjia, still a way off 100% fitness, toiled and made life difficult for the Barnsley defenders.
This seemed to relieve some pressure of our own back line who still had plenty to do but looked more established and comfortable on the ball, whilst still dealing with The Tykes forward runs, predominantly down their right hand side.
Fast forward a few days and Tuesday night was more than a damp squib. A tepid match and a 2-0 loss to Middlesbrough saw us exit the League Cup.
Understandably some people questioned the line up and there were one or two inclusions that I, myself was surprised by, however I think Bruce has the same feelings about the upcoming week as I do and many others too.
In the next eight days we face a really focal point in our season already. Burton Albion away on Tuesday, followed by Bolton Wanderers back at Villa Park on 30th September ends a busy week ahead which starts with the visit of Forest tomorrow evening. After the flurry of games comes an international break and how many points will we pick up before then?
Steve Bruce will undoubtedly want to build both momentum and a consistency starting this week. Despite the loss on Tuesday, the starting line up tomorrow will surely see the team from last weekend, with fresh legs and the impetus to go for goals once again. It’s not just about the consistency in winning, it is equally rare, yet important to see us start with the same eleven from one game to the next when possible.
We find ourselves in a position to make a bold claim and state our intentions this week and the majority of fans will expect 7-9 points in return.
Numerous players will want to build upon recent performances to add to the cause.
Sam Johnstone is quickly establishing himself as a definition for consistency with 11 clean sheets in his last 22 Championship appearances. Not to mention some of the saves that have earned points and saved some too.
Captain, John Terry has started to look like the leader we know he can be in the last few games, winning countless aerial duels and putting his body on the line.
Albert Adomah will aim to win a place in the team on a regular basis. Performances like last week will more than go a long way to doing so.
Many others could be mentioned and there are some players who haven’t had much time to show their full abilities yet.
The key is to build a consistent side and in turn drive forward momentum throughout the team. In just over a weeks time, life will seem an awful lot better if we are indeed 7-9 points better off and remember, we are only 5 points off the top six as it stands.