After Wednesday’s humiliating League Cup exit against League Two side Luton Town, the Villans will be looking to send a message to the rest of the league by putting in a good performance against Rotherham United. Already labelled as a ‘must win game’ for the Villans, Roberto Di Matteo’s men must make sure that a ‘losing mentality’ doesn’t haunt them as it did last season.
The Millers lived a dangerous life last season in the Championship, escaping relegation only after Neil Warnock took the helm. Rotherham United looked dead and buried, six points adrift of safety in the relegation places, until the very experienced Neil Warnock rang the changes for the last sixteen games. The Millers then went on an impressive eleven game unbeaten run and safety was confirmed with two games left. They finished in 21st place.
Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham
Date: Saturday 13th August 2016
Villa new boy James Chester, who signed from West Bromwich Albion this morning, may make an appearance, as confirmed by Villa CEO Keith Wyness on Twitter,
The ex-Manchester United academy player is a welcome addition, joining Tommy Elphick in a bid to strengthen Aston Villa’s poor back line.
Captain Tommy Elphick is also in line to make his competitive Villa Park debut, along with Pierluigi Gollini and Aaron Tshibola.
Boss Roberto Di Matteo doesn’t have any fresh injury concerns for tomorrow’s game. Although Nathan Baker was forced off after taking a knock to the head during the game on Wednesday evening, his injury is nothing too serious.
One player who won’t be featuring is Gabby Agbonlahor. Villa owner Dr. Tony Xia explained on Twitter that Agbonlahor had met with the owner and Di Matteo. The forward was told that he will be loaned out to prove his fitness and test his desire to return to the Villa first team.
For the away team, manager Alan Stubbs told the media that he expects his captain Lee Frecklington to be out for a couple of weeks because of injury.
Rotherham United will give some new recruits some game time. Right back Darnell Fisher and defender Dominic Ball who signed for the Millers in the summer may start the game.
Kirk Broadfoot and Joe Mattock have recovered from their injuries and should be fit for the clash at Villa Park.
The danger men
Fortunately for Villa, influential skipper Lee Frecklington has been ruled out of the game. The midfielder plays a big role for Rotherham: not only is he big presence in the middle of the park, he is also a threat going forward. The centre midfielder scored seven goals last season and played a big part in the Millers’ escape from potential relegation.
Forward Danny Ward is next on the list of players the Villans will have to be wary of. Despite only scoring eight goals in fifty appearances for Rotherham United, he will be looking to pounce on any chances presented to him by a Villa side devoid of confidence.
Anthony Forde, who signed for Rotherham United this summer, is another player the Villa boys will have to be keep a close eye on. The winger likes to be direct and will look to put the ball in the box at any given opportunity.
With Wednesday’s result still fresh in the minds of players and fans alike, the Villans will have to show fans that they will turn over a new leaf and that it won’t be a case of “same old, same old”.
For the last five or six years, the Villa faithful have not deserved what they have had to endure at Villa Park. The fans have tried to turn it into a fortress but there’s only so much even the most die-hard fans can take. For some reason or other, the players simply have not delivered for a couple of years now.
Tomorrow is a chance for the current squad and the new regime to put that right. If Di Matteo’s men are to mount a serious push for promotion this season then their home form has to be among the best in the league.
I’m going for a Villa win and predict that there will be a few goals in this game.