If you are to believe reports in the press then the game against Preston is a must-win game for Steve Bruce. Bruce has reportedly been told he has two games to save his Aston Villa job with just one win in nine. Villa play the current bottom two in the Championship in their next two games.
Preston manager, Alex Neil will no doubt be under serious pressure himself. There have been murmurs that the fans believe they have gone backwards this season. It is hard to argue against this with them currently sitting at the foot of the table. Some will point to their suspension and injury issues. This game is massive for both Aston Villa and Preston.
A win for Bruce’s side could see them climb as high as fifth in the Championship. A win for the away side could see them climb out of the relegation zone up to 21st. As with all mid-week EFL games, this game will be available on the red button on Sky Sports Football.
As I have already mentioned, Preston hasn’t had a great start to the season. They have managed just a single win in their opening ten games. Conceding goals is a big problem for Neil’s men as they have failed to keep a clean sheet since the opening game of the season against QPR. They have conceded an average of 2.1 goals per game.
During the summer, Preston sold their highly rated left back Greg Cunningham to Cardiff. Seven players come in including defender Jordan Storey from Exeter City.
Preston average 51.6% of the possession compared to Villa’s 54%. Their pass completion (73.5%) and shots on target (12 per game) are also lower than Villa’s. Although they do win more balls in the air with 33 won per game, compared to the home sides 27.3.
ONE TO WATCH
Midfielder Alan Browne is crucial to everything Preston does. It is no real surprise that he has the highest average rating so far this season for Preston with 7.22 (Whoscored.com). The midfielder has scored the joint-most amount of goals this year with 3.
Brown averages 1.8 tackles and 1.9 fouls per game highlighting the fact that he isn’t scared to put the hard work in. If Villa can look to control the midfield they should come out on top in this fixture.
Bruce will access the fitness of Tammy Abraham. The striker went off injured with a calf injury in the 1-1 draw against Bristol. Scott Hogan and Keinan Davis continue to knock on the door after returning from injuries that ruled them out of the start of the season.
Preston will be without midfielder Josh Harrop after he ruptured his knee ligaments in the defeat against WBA. Paul Gallagher will be assessed after missing the weekend with a back injury. Lukas Nmecha and Sean Maguire should be available for selection.
HEAD TO HEAD
With both sides being founding members of the Football League, it is no surprise that they have met on 114 occasions. Villa have won 57, Preston 38 and the other 19 ending in draws.
Villa have only lost one in the last thirteen meetings. Although you could argue only four of those games have come in the last few years. Apart from the Cup meeting in 2002, they didn’t come up against each since 1974.
Preston won the first-ever meeting, way back in 1888. They won 3-1 at Villa Park in the FA Cup.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Predicted XI: Nyland, Hutton, Tuanzebe, Chester, Jedinak, Bjarnasson, McGinn, Grealish, Bolasie, Kodji, Abraham.
Kick Off: 19.45
TV: Sky Sports Football (Red Button)
Tickets sold: 28,500 (Estimated)
Odds: Villa 5/6 Draw: 5/2 Preston 10/3 (Ladbrokes)