Aston Villa v Fulham preview | Bruce chasing a fifth promotion to the Premier League

May 22, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa, Match Previews 

Aston Villa travel to Wembley to face Fulham in the Championship playoff final on Saturday, and Steve Bruce’s men go in as underdogs given the impressive form of the Cottagers in the second half of the season.

Villa booked their place in the final after beating Middlesbrough 1-0 on aggregate in the semis. Fulham won 2-1 over the two legs against Derby County.

There could be £160m riding on the outcome of Saturday’s clash at Wembley, but can Villa get their hands on it?

Freescoring Fulham have been near-invincible in 2018

Slavisa Jokanovic’s Fulham side finished third in the Championship with 88 points from 46 games. Only Wolverhampton Wanderers scored more goals and lost fewer games than the Londoners this season, and Fulham ended up finishing just two points off the automatic promotion spots.

Their form in 2018 was outstanding, losing just one league game this year right at the end of the season when their fate was already sealed. At the turn of the year, Fulham were 12th in the table, seven points adrift of a playoff place, but picked up 16 wins and four draws from the 21 games that followed to finish on the cusp of the top-two.

If the season started on January 1, 2018, Fulham would be top of the table with 52 points from 21 games, nine points clear of second-placed Cardiff City and 11 ahead of Wolves. The Cottagers hit a couple of hurdles this month, losing their final league game of the season and the first leg of their playoff semi-final clash, but they responded well in the reverse fixture and deserve to be in the final.

Villa aren’t to be underestimated, however.

Villa’s mean defence can shut out Fulham

Steve Bruce’s Aston Villa side finished fourth in the table with 83 points, boasting the third-best defensive record in the division. Their form in the last six games cost them a top-two place as they dropped eight points in the run-in. Nevertheless, they have a manager who has more experience of the Championship playoffs than most and boasts an outstanding promotion record.

Bruce has earned promotion to the Premier League four times in his managerial career – Birmingham City (2002 and 2006/17), Hull City (2012/13 and 2016) – two of which came from winning the playoffs. He’s under a lot of pressure to deliver given the resources Villa had over the majority of their opponents this season and will be grateful for the experienced heads in the squad as they’ll be able to manage the final.

Robert Snodgrass, Mile Jedinak, John Terry, Alan Hutton, Ahmed Elmohamady and Glenn Whelan have a lot of Premier League experience between them and will lead by example on the big occasion, on and off the pitch. Villa’s greatest strength in their defence, while Fulham’s is their attack.

Something has to give on Saturday, but nerves may settle the final.

Summary

Fulham are favourites, but Aston Villa had more pressure to deliver promotion this season after failing in 2016/17. The Midlands outfit have a manager who has done it four times in his career and knows how to approach a playoff final, but Fulham have beaten Villa in their last four meetings in London.

It could be too close to call as a result.

What now for Darren Bent?

June 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa, Guest Blogs, Transfer News 

One of the questions that Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert must answer this summer relates to the club’s record transfer Darren Bent. The England international forward has been frozen out of the team following the signing of Christian Benteke, and is in dire need of regular first-team football.

Although Bent looks odds-on to leave Villa Park with bwinbetting.com, there is a case to be made that the forward could still rekindle his career in Birmingham. The player’s future may well be linked in with Benteke’s fate, as should Villa sell the Belgian forward Bent could be in line for a recall.

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Aston Villa avoid winner-takes-all match at Wigan

May 17, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa, Match Previews, Pre-Match Analysis 

Aston Villa fans have been looking at the Premier League fixture list with trepidation over the last month, with the prospect of travelling to take on Wigan in a winner-takes-all clash at the DW Stadium on the last day of the campaign an ominous prospect. The Latics have become renowned as being relegation escapees over the last number of seasons, however Roberto Martinez’s men’s luck ran out this week.

Villa can go into the last game of the season resting easy, with Wigan already relegated after their 4-1 defeat to Arsenal on Tuesday night. Villa were relegation candidates with Unibet in April, however positive results against Stoke, Sunderland and Norwich have assured the Birmingham-based side’s safety turned the odds in their favour.

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Aston Villa 2012-13 season preview

August 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa 

Aston Villa fans were forced to endure a frustrating and at times relegation-threatened campaign in 2011-12, but the club maintained their Premier League status and are in the process of rebuilding for a more productive 2012-13. Alex McLeish has been shown the door after failing to win over the Villa Park faithful, with energetic and ambitious coach Paul Lambert his replacement. Despite an opening-day defeat to West Ham, there is seemingly more of an air of confidence around the club this term.

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New season, new hope for Aston Villa fans

August 21, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa 

To say the last couple of seasons have been miserable ones for Aston Villa and their fans would be putting it mildly as, beginning with then-manager Martin O’Neill’s decision to resign days before the 2010/11 season began, the club has fallen from challenging for Europe and honours, to fighting simply to stay in the league. However this coming season brings a new hope for fans of the Birmingham club, as new manager Paul Lambert looks to get the club back on the right track.

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What does 2012-13 have in store for Aston Villa?

May 24, 2012 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Aston Villa 

To say that 2011-12 was a blow-par season for Aston Villa is something of an understatement. The Midlands club avoided the relegation places by two points, struggled to score goals (despite Agbonlahor’s fancy new soccer cleats), and with the lowly total of seven wins all season, the Villa Park faithful suffered at the hands of mediocre performances for the bulk of the campaign. However with Alex McLeish being shown the door, what does 2012-13 hold in store for Villa?

Villa’s season seemed doomed from day one, as ex-Birmingham City boss McLeish’s appointment was treated with contempt from the fans, a lack of money was spent in last summer’s transfer market and main creators Stewart Downing and Ashley Young left the club. Despite a plucky start, the club quickly spiraled into lacklustre performances, too many draws and not enough goals.

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Could Jermaine Signing be a Stroke of Jenas?

November 4, 2011 by · 9 Comments
Filed under: Aston Villa 

Aston Villa have 12 points after 10 games, the exact same tally as last season, and despite sitting 9th, could be in a dangerous position were they to lose, or even perhaps draw with Norwich. With United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal all to come in the next two months, Alex McLeish will no doubt have hoped to have amassed more points by this stage after a friendly looking start to the schedule. Read more

October Preview: Beating Manchester City, West Brom and Sunderland

October 12, 2011 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Aston Villa 

After a summer of cutting costs and cutting corners, Aston Villa are unexpectedly in a position to do well this season. Currently in 7th place in the league, They have every reason to contemplate a top-six given that Newcastle will invariably suffer some loss in form and Arsenal, currently out of the top seven, may never recover enough to move ahead of the Villains.

It may be wishful thinking this early in the season but without any domestic or European cup football to contend with for a while, Villa will be able to ensure that their first team does their best going into every game. And how Villa play in their next three Premier League games will be a big indicator on where their season is heading.

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Aston Villa Blog Player of the Month (August): Gabby Agbonlahor

September 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aston Villa 

The votes have been counted and verified and the eagerly anticipated award for Aston Villa Blog’s Player of the Month for August, as voted by the fans, in association with Bernard Matthews wafer thin turkey ham and sponsored by the PedEgg, goes to…Gabby Agbonlahor! Read more

The McLeish Mentality

September 2, 2011 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Aston Villa, Guest Blogs 

Aston Villa Blog’s Ollie Scrimgeour discusses the mentality that Alex McLeish has brought to the club early on in his reign as manager, as well as giving his opinions on the club’s deadline day activity.

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