Match Preview: #safc vs. #avfc – Contain your excitement!

As odd as it may seem, I’m rather looking forward to this game.  Yes, despite Villa trying their hardest to out-do Derby & Swindon Town’s unfathomably bad Premier League campaigns.  2016 is a New Year…we might even win a match!

Sunderland vs. Aston Villa – Preview

Kick Off: 3pm – 2nd January 2016.

So, we go into the game in pretty much the worst shape imaginable.  As fans we all prayed to the footballing Gods, wrote to Santa and behaved like good little boys in the hope that the Christmas fixtures would reap some rewards.  Unfortunately, Villa could only muster a draw against a disinterested West Ham side on boxing day & topped it with an abysmal defeat at Carrow Road just a few days later.  *Huff.

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Therefore we travel to the Stadium of Light under the pretense that our fate remains in our hands, when our collective heads are already telling us something very different.  I’m sure many still look across the fixture list plotting a miraculous return to form, a great escape and Rudy Gestede winning the Premier League’s Golden Boot.  Shortly before being Sectioned.

Sunderland, despite a couple of decent & surprise wins under Allardyce have continued to be poor.  Indeed, a shock win away at Palace was secured only because of Scott Dann defending as though coached by our own at Bodymoor Heath.  However, if Villa are to win a football game again this season, then it can only rationally be against a side in marginally better shape than ourselves.

This is tempered against Villa suffering an array of injury problems and some unwanted suspensions owing to recent ill-discipline across the squad.  It’s a sad fact that looking across the team, few of our players could honestly be considered a real miss.  Perversely, their absences may enforce Garde into changes from what has increasingly become a predictable squad sheet.

Of those missing, Ayew is the only true loss.  The Ghanaian has been the a solitary figure in carrying a threat which has translated into goals.  His pace and direct nature will be a big miss in an otherwise impotent attack.  Ashley Westwood, also suspended, could enable a fresh face or style to be attempted in the middle of the park.  Gabby, remains “unfit”; read into that what you will.

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Okore is likely to return at centre back after recovering from a swollen knee & presumably will partner the committed by decidedly shaky Micah Richards.  Clark will presumably drop to the bench or may find himself deployed into a holding midfield role. 

Who knows what terrifying combination of fullbacks we will employ?  Hutton gives a lot but is guilty of frequent & repeated errors.  There is also the prospect of watching Bacuna attempting to defend on his wrong foot, in the wrong position…again.  Whatever the outcome, our weakness in this area is obvious and will not doubt be targeted.

However, let us not forget that Bacuna had arguably his best game for Villa last season on this ground, playing in a right wing back role, resulting in him making the European team of the week.  How times change for the Dutchman, who could easily find himself dropped this weekend.

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Sunderland are on a torrid run of results.  Five straight defeats is relegation form in anyone’s book.  If they have one advantage, it is that in Defoe they possess a genuine top class finisher.  He must be obviously be suppressed.  However, this means Villa having to defend, which neither team can apparently manage judging by a shared -19 goal difference.

As I said at the outset, I am looking forward to the game [Yes, I must be mad].  I genuinely don’t think there’s much to pick between two sides bereft of confidence and undoubtedly short on quality.  This could make the game either absolute dross or a very watchable free for all.  I’m hoping for the latter & three points to go with it.  Would a win give us hope?  Perhaps.  Is hope a cruel thing?  Certainly.

Prediction:

I think by some miracle Villa will win.  It has to happen sometime, right?

Sunderland (1) v (2) Villa.

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