The first stint of Aston Villa’s Championship season ends Saturday at Bristol City. The task? Pretty simple: Win.
If Villa hit this first international break at 2-2-1 with eight points in hand, it should be viewed as a successful start to the season. The Claret and Blues have already played two of the six or eight toughest fixtures of the season, and while only one point was won between them, Villa showed they aren’t off the pace in the division.
Another draw would also keep Villa unbeaten in four, but if the three points aren’t won tomorrow, the start will suddenly be seen as a little slow. Such are the margins of a small sample size, eh?
What to know about Villa
New signings, yay! Mile Jedinak was signed before the Derby trip, but missed out due to a hold-up in his registration, and Ritchie De Laet signed this week from Leicester City. Now, I’ve felt that Leandro Bacuna’s done quite well at right back, but even if he doesn’t start, De Laet adds another option for Villa, who can shift Bacuna forward into the attack if a change in tactic — or a desire for someone who’s kinda like a real winger — is needed.
Knock on wood, but the defence has been really solid this year when Micah Richards isn’t masquerading as a centre back against League Two sides. Villa have conceded just twice in four Championship matches, and both goals came from goalkeeper errors. James Chester and Tommy Elphick look to be a really strong pairing, so keeping Bristol City off the scoresheet should be a goal once more.
What to know about Bristol City
After starting the season with a pair of wins, the Robins have now lost two straight — though those came against Norwich City and Newcastle United.
The defence has been consistent for City this season, as they’ve conceded four goals in each Championship match so far; they scored twice against Wigan Athletic and Burton Albion, but haven’t netted in their last 180 minutes. If the attack does get clicking again, it’ll likely be Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham who gets it done. Of the Robins’ seven goals this season across all competitions, he’s scored five. Bobby Reid has the other two.
They’ve recently sold former Villa defender Derrick Williams to Blackburn Rovers, which means we won’t see him for a little while longer. Also, they have a hashtag on their kit. We can’t lose to that, right?
Bristol City are as long as 19/10
The best odds on a draw are 23/10
Aston Villa are slight favourites, with 9/5 your best odds on the Claret and Blues
I’m feeling pretty decent about this. I think Villa’ll be able to get a goal — perhaps Jordan Ayew finally gets his? — and keep a second straight clean sheet away from home. That’s a 1-0 win to Villa.