After our League Cup Semi-Final heroics against Leicester in mid-week, Aston Villa returns to Premier League against when they head down to the South Coast to take on Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
Many supporters across the country would have had their eyes fully on the transfer deadline day news yesterday but regardless of what business was done, or wasn’t done in the window, nothing can be done about it now. Any grumbles need to stop and we need to get fully behind the boys in Claret and Blue. In case you haven’t noticed, we are in a relegation battle and it is a battle we are capable of winning.
Bournemouth beat us earlier in the season in a game many Villa fans felt hard done by. Mistakes were made and we must not see a repeat of them today in what many see as a six-pointer. A win would see Villa get a bit of breathing space between them and the bottom three. I dread to think about what impact a loss would have.
Only three sides have picked up fewer points than Eddie Howes men at home while Villa has only picked up more points on the road than one other side, Norwich City. Having said that, Villa has picked up four of their eight points away from Villa Park in their last two away fixtures.
TEAM NEWS & INJURY UPDATE
Villa has no fresh injury news for this game. The only players missing are our four long term casualties, John McGinn (Foot), Wesley, Tom Heaton (Both ACL) and Jed Steer (calf/shin).
Dean Smith will have to make a few decisions on whether he sticks with the side that beat Leicester in mid-week or freshen things up with the likes of Danny Drinkwater pushing for a start.
Bournemouth has no less than eight first-team injuries for today’s clash. The most noticeable is Joshua King who has a thigh injury and isn’t expected to return for another 2-3 weeks.
Their other casualties include Arnaut Danjuma Groeneveld (foot), Jack Stacey, Junior Stanislas, Lloyd Kelly (all thigh), Chris Mepham, Charlie Daniels (both knee) and David Brooks (ankle).
Phillip Billing could feature after returning from a back injury.
HEAD TO HEAD STATISTICS
BOURNEMOUTH KEY PLAYER
There is no coincidence that Bournemouth’s recent pick up in form has come with the return of Nathan Ake. The 24-year-old is to the Cherries what Tyrone Mings is to Villa in the heart of the defence.
Despite being relatively young still, the Netherlands international leads from the back with his never say die attitude and the Villa front line will have their work cut out this afternoon.
THOUGHTS ON BOURNEMOUTH
I have no real thoughts on Bournemouth, to be honest. I admire what they have achieved in recent years but let’s not forget they have spent just short of £250M in the last five years. That isn’t a criticism because you have to spend big money just to stand still in the modern game but when some sections of the media make out they have a small budget, it’s a little laughable.
Despite their struggles this season, Eddie Howe has done a phenomenal job for the Cherries. Is it time for a change for both parties? I’m not so sure and I won’t try and understand because only their fans and those within the club will know what is truly needed.
I hope that Bournemouth can continue their Premier League ride but beating relegation this season but if it comes down to them or us, there is no question what outcome I would prefer!
The only change I can foresee Smith making is Pepe Reina coming in for Orjan Nyland. Despite Nyland’s heroics in mid-week, I think Reina’s experience will give him the nod.
Reina; Hause, Mings, Konsa; Targett, Luiz, Nakamba, Guilbert; Grealish, El Ghazi; Samatta.
Although Mbwana Samatta probably should have scored against Leicester, I felt his work rate and effort was impressive and should give him the nod over Keinan Davis.