Derby County are the visitors to Villa Park today. I spoke about how hard it had become to write about Villa in last weekends Stoke preview. It is amazing what a week and a bit of good news can do isn’t it?
At times this season, Villa have felt more like a chore than anything else. Some would say just stop going but I can’t. It is like a drug and I need more and more. They do say the bad times will make the good times even better and its probably true.
It was announced that Jack Grealish would make his return this week. I am not usually one for pinning all my hopes on one player. Certainly, not one who has been out for so long but Grealish is different. I am not expecting us to start smashing teams again but I do expect better to watch football. Players have already spoken about how he unites the dressing room and has improved morale. Obviously, the proof is in the pudding and we will see just what effect he has come at 3 pm this afternoon.
Aston Villa currently sits 13th in the Championship table on 45 points. A win could see the climb as high as 10th while a defeat could see us drop to 16th.
Derby have been known as the bottlers of the Championship in recent seasons. They tend to start strongly and slowly drift away as the season comes to an end. This season has been no different so far. The Rams fans will certainly be hoping they can get back into the playoffs in time for the end of the season. They currently sit 2 points adrift of Bristol City in the final playoff position.
Derby’s away form represents where they are in the Championship at the moment. They have picked up 22 points from 17 games, the eight most in the league.
Frank Lampard’s men are possession-hungry and average 54.1% of the ball this season. Only three sides average more. Derby are not scared to shoot from long range and are pretty dangerous from set pieces. They will give the opposition chances though so Tammy Abraham is bound to have a chance or two today. Let’s just hope he can take them!
As I have already mentioned, Grealish will be available for selection for the first time since our 2-2 draw with WBA. Lovre Kalinic and Tom Carroll have also returned from injury and are available for selection.
Henri Lansbury has returned to training again but won’t be available for selection just yet. Alan Hutton is ruled out following an injury he picked up against Stoke. John McGinn is still suspended.
Derby have their own injury problems. Andy King has been ruled out for the season with an ankle injury. Mason Mount is back in training but won’t be ready for this game following a hamstring injury.
Craig Bryson (foot), Curtis Davis (Achilles), Tom Lawrence (ankle), Marcus Olsson and Craig Forsyth (knee) are all unavailable. Scott Carson should return following a thigh injury to play one of his former clubs.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Predicted XI: Kalinic; Elmohammady, Elphick, Mings, Hause; Whelan, Hourihane, Grealish; Adomah, El-Ghazi; Abraham.