After a free weekend, football returns tonight with the trip to Griffin Park. It will be interesting to see what impact ten days training has had; hopefully, the answer is a constructive one. Brentford whupped in the Cup by Chelsea, may suffer some backlash from that defeat. Shipping five goals is never a pleasant experience, no matter the competition or opponent.
Writing a blog, you learn new things along the way. Today’s interesting fact is that Brentford have never beaten us. Not once in the previous eight meetings. There’s a first time for everything, and with our form this season, you wouldn’t bet against it being tonight.
That’s more than enough fatalism for one day, I think.
Villa came up with an unusual tactic for the game: signing the opposition’s striker so he can’t play tonight. It’s going to busy afternoon if we’re going to pursue that one all season. Scott Hogan, 38 goals in his last 66 appearances is an interesting choice, designed to compensate for McCormack’s departure but also more of a traditional striker than we’ve got, other than Jonathan Kodjia.
While I don’t expect changes from the XI which screwed up so spectacularly against Preston North End, the signing of Bjarnason is intriguing. Dropping from the Swiss League to the Championship isn’t much of a sales job but to forsake Champions League football, almost certainly forever, is a big step. That said, if your team isn’t progressing, moving to an English club with a high profile in its’ division is certainly a way to put yourself in the shop window.
It won’t be a surprise to see him in the starting line-up with Ashley Westwood’s rumoured departure. I suppose it will be a case of seeing which combinations work in training but Lansbury, Bjarnason and Conor Hourihane haven’t joined to sit on the bench.
Playing that trio together seems quite narrow although, with Adomah and (presumably) Kodjia on the flanks, with Hogan in the middle, it probably works in a 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 or 4 – 2 – 3 – 1. Wherefore art thou, Jack? And that’s the question. Kodjia up front with Hogan an admittedly expensive Plan B is another alternative with Grealish notionally on the left. Decisions, decisions…
In truth, the signings are the manifestation of Bruce’s frustrations with the squad he has inherited. Hindsight is showing that while there are some good individuals, they aren’t making a good XI. Too much chopping and changing doesn’t help but until we start winning games, Bruce isn’t going to settle on the core of his starting line-up.
Brentford are a couple of places below us and in a horrible run of form at home, winning three of the last ten in all competitions. Yes, I know, we’re awful away from but for the love of Ray Graydon and all that is holy, let me dream of a victory. I enjoyed beating QPR – another west London club if we’re looking for geographical omens – and that sensation of feeling perky after an away win is quite nice.
The pressure is off Villa in my mind. We’re not going to get promoted so get the side together, notch a few wins and finish as high as possible. Then the summer has a platform to build on.