This coming Sunday, Villa’s intense run of huge fixtures in the Championship continues as Dean Smith’s side host table-topping Leeds United at Villa Park. It’s been a few weeks of pressure for the team and it feels like it has all led up to this one.
But is there a better time to send a message to the rest of the league? I’d argue that perhaps not.
Aston Villa have been getting better and better recently and as an attacking force, I’d argue there isn’t anyone better in the division. It’s clear that these players should be higher in the league and if it wasn’t for Steve Bruce’s tactical version of a disaster movie at the start of the season, they probably would be.
Supposedly, Yannick Bolasie is Premier League quality, supposedly Tammy Abraham is Premier League quality and supposedly, so are other Villa stars. It’s time to prove it now.
They’ll be up against a very tough opponent in Leeds United who have had a great season so far. It’s about time someone turned Leeds back into the force they should be. They have the stadium. They have the structure. They certainly have the passionate fans and now they finally have the manager to back it up.
Marcelo Bielsa has done a tremendous job at Leeds. He hasn’t changed too much but what he has done is took a talented group of players and milked them for every little bit of ability he can grasp. That’s what the top managers, do so it’s fair to say this an appointment that has worked out so far.
It’s weird though. In recent seasons, Leeds was always a difficult game but it felt like a should-win game for the Villa. It’s like Leeds were the Marvel villain in the early movies when they are still introducing the early characters. They were dangerous and kept you busy for half of the film, but in the end, the heroes would brush them off and get the job done, and there was always another baddie.
This season though, they are a whole different story. They are not C-list Obadiah Stane or the effervescent Red Skull anymore. They’ve grown their purple skin and picked up their Infinity Stones. They have gone full-on Thanos and it will take a Marvel-lous performance to avenge them.
The best thing is: this Villa side under Dean Smith feel capable of doing it. You’ve got the Spider-man sense and strength of Tammy Abraham, the majestic Iron-Man steel of James Chester, the majestic humanism of Villa’s own Hawkeye in John McGinn and the Captain America-like agility of Yannick Bolasie. We just need Dean Smith in an eye-patch making angry faces to complete the franchise.
Villa fans know what this team is capable of.
The rest of the country THINK they know what this team is capable.
It’s time to smash those expectations out of the water.