Saturday’s fixture at home to Blackburn Rovers will be the first fixture Steve Bruce has taken charge of as Aston Villa manager where the fans will arrive expecting all three points at a canter.
So far, Bruce’s games have all been against teams in the promotion hunt, with the exception being a derby day encounter with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
This weekend, the club will welcome one of the favourites for relegation and the onus will be on Bruce’s players to not only win but deliver an entertaining performance that sees the Villans triumph comfortably against the visitors.
Bruce has had an unbeaten start to his Villa managerial career, winning two and drawing two of his first four games. The team’s performances have revolved around staying solid, letting the opposition have possession and then taking the one or two opportunities they get in the game.
The Riversiders are sure to turn up not wanting to lose given their current precarious position – second from bottom in the Championship – and Bruce’s men will need to show a different side to their game if they are to send the Villa fans home happy on Saturday.
From Bruce’s four games in charge, the Villa side has had an average of 37.45% possession and that tactic has paid dividends. However, a defensive away-like performance won’t work against a side that will arrive at Villa Park looking to play that way in the hope of stealing a point.
The Villans will find themselves with more of the ball and will need to find a way of cutting through. With Jordan Ayew and Albert Adomah both missing for the game, that is unlikely to come from the wide areas. Jack Grealish is likely to come into the team so Bruce may need to find a way of getting the midfielder into dangerous positions so he can feed through that killer ball to the in-form Jonathan Kodjia.
In a way, Saturday’s game will be the first real test at Aston Villa Football Club of Bruce’s managerial ability.