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Pre-match Report: The Battle Against Bristol

Follow us on Twitter @claretandview // Words by Mark Jirobe (@VillaMarkPGH)

Aston Villa are looking for two consecutive league wins on the bounce as they visit Bristol City on Friday. After promising displays against Norwich and Wigan, Steve Bruce will be keen to keep the ball rolling with another three-point performance. With the international break coming as soon as this contest is over, it will be interesting to see who Bruce and his coaching staff will choose against Bristol City. There have been more than enough promising performances over the past 180 minutes of football to spring a few welcomed surprises here and there. But, what do Bristol City have to say about a game in which they would love to take something from? Here we are to break down the statistics and the main contributors for the Robins. 

Bristol City welcome Aston Villa to Ashton Gate Stadium with one win, two draws, and one loss in such early days in league competition. Since Aston Villa have grudgingly returned to the Championship, Bristol City have won one of two contests against the Villans. Every Villa fan would like to forget the contest in late August of last year, where a Roberto Di Matteo Villa side would lose 3-1 to Bristol City away from home. This was the beginning of a long and downright woeful competitive edge away from home for Villa and that’s something Steve Bruce has tirelessly tried to remedy since his appointment. 

At present day, Bristol sit 11th on the EFL table albeit early into the season. Bristol City midfielder Bobby Reid has been running his business with 4 goals to his name. With a 63% shooting accuracy, Reid will no doubt have to be closed down early and often. With John Terry and James Chester not being included in the Aston Villa squad midweek against Wigan, both Villa defenders will have to be on full alert in this contest. The 24 year old English midfielder has already passed his goal total last year of 3 and looks keen to continue filling the net for Bristol. 

Reid also scored in Bristol’s last game in the EFL Cup, where his club surprised a few with a win against Premier League side Watford. The 3-2 result came away from home, which indicates Bristol City players would enjoy nothing more than continue with a solid performance at home. Bristol’s last league game saw a bore of an all-nil affair at home to Millwall. The only bright spot of the match was the play of Man Of The Match recipient Eros Pisano. The Italian defender played a smart game at the back, winning vital one-on-one situations and playing the long ball forward with ease and technique. Pisano seems to be good business for Bristol City, as he transferred over from Italian club Hellas Verona in July.

The former Aston Villa man with the magic hat, Nathan Baker, has also featured well for Bristol City since leaving B6. If Aston Villa are to continue their goal scoring bonanza of late, it’s a good bet that they will have to beat Baker and Pisano on the way. Bristol has conceded 5 goals in league competition thus far, and all of those goals have come from inside of the 18-yard box, or thereabout. With the way Aston Villa have been hanging their hat on getting the ball into the box, Steve Bruce would be wise to continue that trend the best that he could.


Bristol City manager Lee Johnson has been at the helm since February 2016. His two previous manager positions were at Oldham Athletic and Barnsley. It’s a bit of a surprise that Johnson kept his job after dangerously flirting with the relegation zone in the previous campaign. Bristol City stayed up last year by 3 points, and Johnson is looking to pay back what trust he has been granted by the supporters and chairmen. At present day, Johnson holds a 38.7% winning percentage as Bristol City manager. With 29 wins in 75 contests with Bristol, Johnson seems very outmatched in terms of managerial ability against Aston Villa. This specific fixture is one that Aston Villa should be winning in a professional and attacking manner, especially coming off of 8 goals scored in the last two games played. 

Steve Bruce has quite a happy dilemma on his hands after a proper 4-1 win against Wigan in the Carabao Cup earlier in the week. There have been multiple shouts from Holte Enders for the gaffer to include the likes of Scott Hogan, Ritchie De Laet, Albert Adomah and deservedly younger Lions like Callum O’Hare and Keinan Davis. With only 11 positions to be filled, Steve Bruce will most likely attempt to mix up a starting squad that will cause havoc for Bristol City in terms of strength and pace. Although the youth players have been refreshing for Aston Villa as of late, Bruce does tend to rely on selecting experience over the hot hand. Glenn Whelan and Ahmed Elmohamady may very well be first names on the team sheet for most, but Callum O’Hare and Albert Adomah bring an entirely different element to their respective positions. Aston Villa would do well to continue keep the foot on the gas and keep up with their new inspiration of attacking football.
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