It’s the hope that kills you.
After Villa collected three points against Reading, and after Cardiff capitulated to Wolves, it looked very much as though the battle for automatic promotion was back on.
Until it wasn’t, and the provider of that ‘wasn’t’ would be Norwich City, who caned a hopeless Aston Villa to the tune of three goals to one.
It seems that Villa are destined for the play-offs, and now Villa’s remaining games seem more of a formality, than landmark occasions.
What to know about Aston Villa
Here’s the thing. Despite Villa’s lack of form, they aren’t going to miss out on the play-offs. In fact, Villa have more of a chance of going up to the Premier League with a 2nd place Championship finish than missing out on the Championship play-offs.
Still, an Aston Villa collapse is becoming disappointingly routine. There have been three points through the season so far when Aston Villa have fell apart, and we must accept that this is simply happening far too often. Is this a side capable of promotion? If so, why must it be through the play-offs?
Rotation is key for Aston Villa, and you’d expect to see Lewis Grabban and Mile Jedinak involved in two separate trench wars against an extremely physical Cardiff side.
As for Villa’s form, any positive showing in terms of chances-created will be a tremendous upgrade from an anaemic showing at Norwich.
Either way, Villa have a chance to ensure Cardiff question their automatic promotion credentials with a win.
What to know about Cardiff
All plaudits must be put Cardiff’s way. That means a bit of praise for Neil Warnock who doesn’t just have his Cardiff team overachieving, but overachieving with some style.
Somehow, Cardiff are the real deal, and are making Fulham, a genuinely good team, fight tooth and nail for 2nd place. That’s a hell of an achievement for this side, which despite lacking in ‘quality’, will likely be going up to the Premier League.
However, they still need to get the job done, and that means bouncing back from defeat by beating Aston Villa.
Can they do it? Well - you wouldn’t really want to bet against a team that has spent the entirety of their season punching above their weight, would you?
And with goals coming from across the park (Junior Hoilett, Callum Paterson, Kenneth Zohore and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing), Cardiff are capable of shoving the ball into the net, despite their lack of passing success, and time spent in possession of the ball.
1-1 with the spoils shared between the teams. Expect top-tier shithousery from Neil Warnick