Before the International break, Villa enjoyed an emphatic victory over Derby County, which let’s be honest, surprised a lot of us. With the club football close to returning many people across the City will be turning their attention to this weekends Second City derby. Judgement day is almost upon us.
After the impressive performance at Pride Park, I have waited in excitement to see how we follow up that performance. I just hope the break doesn’t unsettle all the work Dean Smith and his coaching team have been trying to achieve.
We all knew we were capable of one-off big wins. Just take a look at the time under Steve Bruce. I am hopeful that Smith has got us ticking in a different way now and we will see more impressive wins instead of one-offs. He seems to have solidified the defence and added a little bit of consistency. Three clean sheets in his five games in charge are not to be sniffed at.
Judgement Day: Birmingham City
It has been said before and no doubt it will be said again, form goes out the window for derby games. Yes, our win and performance over Derby would have given the boys a massive confidence boost. It would have also sent out a statement to Birmingham.
Garry Monk is a decent manager and has got an average team playing some good football. They don’t overcomplicate things and play to their strengths. He is getting everything out of his team right now. They have lost just one game in their last thirteen and will fancy their chances at Villa Park this weekend.
Smith will be hoping his team can build on that impressive Derby performance. If we can, I don’t believe anyone in this division, let alone Birmingham would stand a chance against us.
Yannick Bolasie is yet to start a game for Aston Villa but he is starting to make noises suggesting he is ready. He has shone and changed games during his substitute appearances but is he ready to start?
I would like to think that if he is fit then he should be given an opportunity but would Smith want to change a winning side. Normally I would say no but I guess it depends on how players return from International duty. If Bolasie does start, we can always take him off if he starts to tire in the second half.
Another decision Smith will have to make is whether to play with a defensive midfielder or not. As discussed in Tom’s article this morning, he opted for a midfield consisting of John McGinn and Conor Hourihane. Despite returning to fitness, Birkir Bjarnason had to settle for a place on the bench.
Smith admitted he went all out for a win at Derby and I highly commend him for doing so. Yes, managers will generally say that but it was clear from his team-sheet and the manner in which we played. He also went on to say that not all games will be like Derby. There will be different challenges ahead so he could change his set-up allowing the return of our Icelandic warrior.
I am optimistic about our chances against Birmingham as well as the tough fixtures that follow. A run of good results until January and then Smith can strengthen in the areas he feels we are lacking. Automatic promotion isn’t off the cards yet.