After three wins out of three last week, this Friday’s match-up against Leeds will be the true litmus test of how far we’ve come this season.
Looking back to this time last year when we held Leeds to a 1-1 draw at Villa Park, it’s safe to say we’ve moved in the right direction whilst Leeds, who lost one or two key players in the summer transfer window have perhaps stagnated or gone one or two steps back.
Bruce has had another 12 months in the hot seat and with it the squad has gelled and looked more holistic in their play. Additions of Glenn Whelan, John Terry, Elmohamady and Chris Samba have been savvy ones whilst Kienan Davis’ unexpected rise to the first team has been a star signing in itself.
And despite losing on paper OUR best two players to injury (Kodjia and Terry of course), props must be given to Bruce for weathering the storm this month and furthermore for playing a system which has allowed the likes of Kienan Davis and Albert Adomah to shine.
Leeds sit a few points and indeed a few places behind us in the Championship table right now but their recent win against Barnsley will have given them the right mindset to go and attack us at Elland Road on Friday.
Common sense dictates this one will be another draw with both sides unable to keep a clean sheet. I’m going for another 1-1, akin to last year’s reverse fixture.
Whilst I’m not convinced (yet) that we have the staying power to challenge for the automatic places, a win would really set out Villa’s stall with just over half the season to go. A draw and dare I say it a defeat, wouldn’t be too concerning given how threadbare our squad is right now, as long as our lads didn’t collapse in the process. Leeds are still a quality Championship side and have the roar of the Elland Road contingent behind them this Friday.
1-1 is the scoreline I’m going for in what will be a very evenly-matched game.