Football is a remarkable game when you stop and think about it.
It wasn’t so long ago, February 2019 in fact, that Villa completed a startling comeback from 3 goals down to prevent Sheffield United topping The Championship. Indeed, that moment was the genesis of an unexpected run that culminated in Villa achieving promotion back to the Premier League that season.Embed from Getty Images
Controversially and more universally remembered is the now infamous Hawkeye failure of 2020. The phantom goal, saved only by the Nordic good looks and telepathy of then Villa ‘keeper Orjan Nyland, was (whatever anyone tells you) a factor in the club clinging to its top flight status.
Given these events, it seems fitting that United should be in town as a Villa side, unrecognisable from those mentioned above, might top the Premier League.
We are a different beast these days, on a club record 15 consecutive home winning run, buoyed by recent victories over Arsenal and Man City. Wins away in the Europa League and a gritty 3 points last time out at Brentford only serves to emphasise the transition.
In form Douglas Luiz and Lucas Digne have now completed suspensions and are a welcome boost in numbers. However, French international Kamara sits out 3 games after a silly sending off at the end of the Brentford encounter.
There are a couple of unsettling injuries to contend with. Pau Torres, who has really started to impress, misses out with an ankle complaint. Similarly, Tielemans, who had found some quite excellent form, won’t feature. Both will be big misses.
The Blades arrive without an away win this term and are at risk of tracking below the lowest points tallies in the league’s history. They’re having a torried time and we’ve all been there. However, a recent change of manager has seen Chris Wilder brought back in.
Wilder oversaw 2 wins over Villa during his last tenure. He’s no-nonsense, knows the club and shouldn’t be underestimated as a coach. With that said, he must be scratching his head at what he’s inherited.Embed from Getty Images
Emery will no doubt be mindful that United (perhaps) have nothing to lose, but aware the visitors arrive at Villa Park with at least 6 players out injured. The Spaniard has rarely shown signs of complacency since his arrival and is preaching a methodology of merciless consistency. It’s certainly working.
It boils down to the fact that this is a really, really pivotal game.
It’s the one the bookies will expect Villa to win. It’s a platform for hitting the dizzying heights of the top of the division. The head-turning has been done in the weeks leading up to this point and it would be a sucker punch to let such an opportunity slip through our hands.
We (Might) Be Top Of The League in time for Christmas. What a remarkable thought.Embed from Getty Images