Aston Villa are on rocky shores at the moment. Coming into the Boxing Day clash with Brentford, the Villa have only managed to win one of their last five league contests. This late run of less than mediocre form isn’t doing Aston Villa any favors. Villa currently still sit in a playoff spot in 6th position, but the position is fragile at best. The next three teams on the table are all in striking distance of the Villans, and it cannot be said enough how badly they need maximum points on the road at Griffin Park.
After an undeniably poor showing against Sheffield United that saw Villa throw away a two goal lead, Steve Bruce has proclaimed that a change of personnel is on the cards against Brentford. Whichever way Bruce seems to lean in picking players for the starting eleven, he needs to find a balance soon. Villa supporters are becoming quite restless as the club has picked up only two points from their last three games played. If Villa are to make a push to become promoted in any fashion, wins need to start being the standard. It will be interesting to see how Bruce adapts to a little bit of heat under his seat, as he usually finds a way to wiggle out of it so far in his Aston Villa tenure.
Villa do not have a very healthy history when it comes to playing away games on Boxing Day. The Claret and Blue have only won a single game of the last 21 away games played the day after Christmas. Alas, in pure Aston Villa fashion, every time an obscure factoid comes to the forefront, they have a funny way of making it disappear.
Danish striker Lasse Vibe scored a last minute goal for Brentford against Norwich earlier on in the week, making it four goals in three league contests. Although Vibe went out with an injury in the 54th minute of that contest with a hamstring issue, Villa will hope that Brentfords’ man in form is unavailable for the match.
Brentford are currently 12th on the league table with 31 points. The Bees have only won two of their last seven outings and that plays into the feet of an Aston Villa squad who are trying to find lightning in a bottle before the prospect of playoff football starts to fade away. Even with a full 24 more hours to prepare for the match than their opponent, Brentford may get a tougher game than they bargained for if Steve Bruce drastically changes the squad with players who are eager to show the Villa manager just exactly what they can do.
Water is wet and Gabby Agbonlahor is injured again. After coming on as a sub in the 2-2 draw to Sheffield United, the aging striker has shared pictures of being at a hospital and not going to visit local children this time. Steve Bruce has confirmed that Agbonlahor has rolled over on his ankle and is undoubtedly out. Bruce has been quite candid with the media leading up to the clash with the Bees. Bruce has already stated that Scott Hogan will be involved, which will see young Keinan Davis drop to the bench. The Villa gaffer has been quoted with saying this about Hogan, and his playing time after sustaining an abdominal injury earlier in the season:
“Scott Hogan hasn’t been fit. He had an operation four or five weeks ago and unfortunately it set him back a little bit. The one thing I’m trying, and it’s difficult at the moment, is I don’t want to put people in who haven’t trained in case they get injured again. Scott Hogan…it’s his time. Hopefully he can have a run of training week in, week out because he’s been stop-start with injuries.”