The defeat at Elland Road in early December, Bruce’s first whilst in charge, reinforced the dawning reality that getting Villa out of The Championship (this season at least), wouldn’t be straightforward.
Following this, a defeat at Norwich and low-key performances against Wigan, QPR & Burton (albeit welcome victories) bring a difficult tie with in-form Leeds into focus.
Whilst few would argue that wins, by any means, are a positive, Villa must start to control and dictate games. Our stop-start season can only see a meagre mid-table finish otherwise.
Wigan, a poor Championship side, was a victory to which the side laboured. Indeed, had it not been for a singular moment of class from Grealish, the fixture would have been a drab 0-0 where questions would rightly have been asked.
Similarly QPR, struggling for form and direction despite the injection of Ian Holloway’s personality, saw us bizarrely opt for Gabby & miss a penalty. Again, had it not been for Kodjia’s persistence, the game could easily have petered out against a side unable to muster a shot on goal.
Most recently, Burton on Boxing Day was a chore to watch. Despite seizing an early lead, even this was surrendered too easily amidst a game where the opposition appeared limited. Until the introduction of Grealish & Ayew, there was no urgency or purpose to our play.
On each occasion Bruce has cut a frustrated figure on the touchline and repeatedly apologetic in post-match interviews.
The facts are frighteningly simple however; if Villa are to have any hope of getting into the playoffs this season, we have to be beating sides like Leeds, especially at home.
Key Leeds Stats
- 5th in Championship
- 3rd in Form Table
- Beat us 2-0 in reverse
- Won 8 of last 10 games.
- 5 of 8 defeats away from home.
1-0 to Villa – Home advantage & we are due a big performance…right?