After the win over QPR, we have eight days rest before three games in seven days. This, by far, is the ‘easiest’ of them if we want to judge them. That said, if there are genuine promotions intentions, we need to win the lot. Nine out of nine would, you’d think, put us up to seventh (maybe) but no lower than eighth by the end of the festive period, which isn’t particularly arduous when you think we’re only three points off the latter now.
And when you think that Boxing Day sees three clashes between teams above us in the table, a win ought to take us to the fringes of the play-off places at the very least.
Steve Bruce reported no new injuries and suspensions so his biggest question is whether to stick with the side which won at Loftus Road. There’s a good reason to stick with them, to build confidence and understanding. With three days rest until Leeds visit B6, it strikes me that rotating the side isn’t particularly called for, especially with the rest days since QPR.
The biggest issue is the lack of goals. Just the two in the last four games which we need to address. Jonathan Kodjia and Albert Adomah are building a good understanding but it isn’t about them. Only four teams have scored less than us while two others have scored the same.
Burton have the same number of goals but sit fourth bottom; it’s a concern because Kodjia with eight goals is the leading scorer. If/when he goes to the Africa Cup of Nations this winter, who will pick up the slack? Gestede, McCormack, maybe Jordan Ayew? We do look light in that department. This is our 23rd game of the Championship season and we’ve only scored more than once in five of them.
Perhaps Nigel Clough has a point when he observed that we probably won’t go up this season.
He’s got more concerns keeping the Brewers up this season. Burton haven’t won on their travels this season so far and are in horrible form; one win in eight so as far as we’re concerned, are there for the taking. They concede readily away from home, 21 goals in eleven games is indicative of their problems.
Bruce observed that ten years ago, you wouldn’t have pegged this as a Championship fixture. Ten weeks ago, I had this pegged as a relegation battle so it just goes to show how wrong both of us are.
Perhaps a sold-out Villa Park will make the difference, prove inspirational. We’ve got to get into the groove and while beating Burton would be a fifth successive home win for the first time in a couple of decades, there’s still a suppressed optimism about the remainder of the season.
Away from home, we’ve taken five points from the last fifteen available. That explains why we’re hovering in mid-table, always threatening to move to the play-offs but never quite making it. There’s still a long way to go so we oughtn’t to be too worried at the moment. And a good win always puts a spring in everyone’s step.
So does a bad one: a win’s a win, after all.
Hope you all have a good Christmas.