Why Aston Villa won't be in the Championship next season
After guiding his team to a 4-1 humiliation of Championship table-toppers Wolverhampton Wanderers, Steve Bruce said it would take "an almighty collapse" to stop Wolves from winning promotion at season's end. Bruce could be saying that about his team. The Villans are in rampant form. They have won ten of their last 12 league games.
Every team that wins Premier League promotion is in for a financial windfall. The total figure borders on £180 million. I would fight to the death for £180 million. Aston Villa is going to win their fight unless Bruce's words about an "almighty collapse" come back to haunt him.
With ten matchdays remaining, there is no margin for error. Bruce and Villa want to unseat Neil Warnock's Cardiff from second to bypass the playoffs.
Cardiff is enjoying themselves too. The Bluebirds have won their last six, haven’t lost any in 10. Nothing is set in stone and the two will meet at Villa Park on 10 April. Steve Bruce’s coy praise for Wolves aside, no one can count their chickens. Okay, too many animals, but the point is the door to automatic promotion is still wide open for four teams and the Villans have given themselves an opportunity to be one of the two. Here’s how.
Defence sets the tone
For over a decade, John Terry skippered Chelsea, leading the Blues through their golden era. When JT finally left Stamford Bridge, even Blues supporters felt he was past it. How wrong they were. Terry has been amazing for Villa. His impact at the back has transformed the team that finished 13th last season.
Terry isn’t doing it alone. James Chester has been an ideal partner. The former Hull stalwart averages 1.4 interceptions and 8.2 clearances per match. Three goals and one assist are a bonus from a man whose primary job is to shut opponents down.
Villa's defensive cohesion could be the X-factor in their promotion struggle.
An attack that stains the sheets
Keeping a clean sheet against this Villa setup takes more than double-decker parking skills. This lot sniffs out goals like a pack of, well, wolves. Their speed and dexterity don't allow defenders time to organise.
Robert Snodgrass has been a gem for the Claret and Blue. He’s had a hand in 19 Villa goals this season. Seven goals and 12 assists have sprung from his wicked left foot.
Thirty-year-old Albert Adomah is the big bully in attacking midfield. The Ghanaian has plucked 14 Championship goals and added five assists. On-loan Spurs attacker, Josh Onomah has also blossomed when given the opportunity.
Villa attack as a pack.Tracking them is difficult. Goals follow. They’ve scored 11 in their last three games.
Mr Steve Bruce
When a team does well, the manager reaps the praise. Steve Bruce has been brilliant for Villa. The former Manchester United defender has worked wonders. The Villans play with greater intensity and hunger since he arrived. The desire to win is unmistakable.
Bruce has also morphed Villa Park into a fortress. Since he arrived in 2016, there have been 36 wins. The team has only failed to defend its ground four times.
Aston Villa are becoming too strong for the Championship under Steve Bruce. They need a stronger challenge. They're ready for the Premier League, but anything can happen in a playoff tie. It would be better to push hard for second.