Preview: Aston Villa (v) Brentford – A “must win”?  After 6 games? 3 points essential.

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There’s no getting away from it, whilst Villa are playing “better” on the football pitch, the actual results have left much to be desired.  

For all the excitement brought about by Dr Tony and an active transfer window, this is visibly a work in progress.  That’s somewhat unnerving in itself.

After an opening day defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, we have only managed a win and 3 draws.  It’s early days, but 17th position in The Championship, a full 10 points off Huddersfield Town, does start to raise the blood pressure a little.

However, the beauty of a busier league campaign is that Villa are never far away from the next game.

The visitors to Villa Park come in the form of Brentford.

This may arguably be one of the least played fixture’s in Villa’s history, with a mere 8 meetings between the sides:

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Source: 11v11.com

It’s safe to say that there’s nothing of note to glean from those statistics other than they not only pre-date the last of our FA Cup triumphs (1957), but that defeat would be another record to go.

Recent form, often judged over 6 games, gives a more relevant insight:

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Source: Sportsmole

Brentford have been steadily going about their business in the first full season for former Walsall manager Dean Smith.

A narrow defeat on the opening day to early pacesetters Huddersfield was corrected with victories over Ipswich and Forest.  A disappointing defeat to Rotherham was then offset by a good win over promotion contenders Brighton.

So a mixed, but broadly positive bag it must be agreed.

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The signs were good for Villa against Forest, but we desperately have to cut out unforced errors and definitely be more clinical up front. 

Equally, the coaching staff and Di Matteo need to address our inability to piece together two halves of football.

Arguably after 5 years of watching Villa, we have enjoyed more halves of promising football in these opening weeks than many can recall.  

However, our newfound ability to gift away seemingly assured victories is an annoying trait which we would do well to cast off.

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Is the season over with anything less than a win against Brentford?  Certainly not.  However, we are in a division where momentum and consistency are important.  Given the potential (and investment), it would be an under-achievement to bob around the middle of the league…or worse.

Further, as other sides pull away, irrelevant of whether they can sustain their runs, we still have to match or better their points returns over weeks and months.

At the very least we should be keeping pace, rather than plotting our way towards the upper reaches of the division before September has run its course.  Our lack of cutting edge and avoidable mistakes have cost us points already, whilst not season defining at this point, they may yet prove to be.

Villa’s major hindrance at the weekend appeared again to be within central midfield.  With Tshibola and Jedinak out through injury, it’s hoped that at least one can be fit enough to relieve either Westwood or Gardner of their shirts.

Equally, there are worries between the sticks.  Gollini, already a concern, was removed at half time after a whack to the chest/throat.  His replacement Bunn, doesn’t inspire much in the way of confidence either.  Goalkeepers, it appears, may be a central theme this season.

Wins are the perfect response to concerns and worries, growing, arguably prematurely amongst some sections of the fans.  For all of the rightful highlighting of our promise and apparent progress, results are ultimately the decider for our season and our fortunes.

Wins will also keep an ambitious, ruthless and determined owner at bay.

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Predictions:

If Jedinak is fit enough to feature, expect a stronger midfield, probably at the expense of Gardner.  Tshibola remains a doubt and will face a late fitness test with new signing Albert Adomah.  Equally, Bunn may be forced to deputise for Gollini in goal.  Any enforced swaps would weaken the side and may give Brentford a route into the fixture.

Villa have Grealish, Ayew, McCormack & Gestede in good form.  Equally, newboy Jonathan Kodjia was a handful against Forest and looked a dangerous addition to the strikeforce.  No problems up front.

The defence has conceded 5 goals in just 2 games, but some of those goals can be traced to dubious support from the midfield and goalkeeper error.

2-1 to Villa.

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