Last Saturday was a hard reset.
Confidence boosted, belief restored, slate wiped clean to move forward and attack the season.
I’m pleased for Gary O’Neil. The result and the hyper-calculated way it was achieved pours scorn on the idea he doesn’t have what it takes.
As I said last week, all his words should be about moving forward, developing the team and preaching positivity.
If we can beat Man City, regardless of the players they had out, we can beat anyone and that includes an excellent Aston Villa side.
The only league games Villa haven’t won so far were at Anfield and St. James’ Park. The comprehensive nature of those defeats will have smarted but they’ve confidently seen off everyone else, culminating in that demolition job on Brighton last weekend.
Unai Emery worked his magic there. I watched the first half and Brighton just couldn’t get into their rhythm. Villa forced them into dangerous areas of the pitch and continually hustled them off the ball.
In Olly Watkins they’ve got one of the league’s most reliable strikers. It’s taken him a few games to get going but he followed up the winning goal at Stamford Bridge with a hat-trick last week so will be full of beans on Sunday. I would personally give him the same man-marking treatment dished out to Haaland to restrict his influence.
I also watched the second half of their Europa Conference League victory last night and the only disappointment will be that they had to deploy so many of the big guns to just about get the job done. Hopefully that plays into our hands a bit with the relatively short turnaround time.
They look a decent bet for the top six, but then again, you could say that about a few teams and with the likes of Chelsea and Man Utd underperforming, it will take a monumental effort to improve on last year’s 7th place finish. It was a ceiling we could never quite break through.
I don’t see any logical reason to change the team. If it was lesser opposition who were likely to sit deep there might be value in sacrificing a defender but Villa will come forward.
Their midfielders like to carry the ball so I think there’s a good opportunity to sit in a shape and wait for the opportunities to pick their pockets.
There are good options for Gary O’Neil to change it if we’re ahead or chasing the game, so I’d stick with the tried and tested formula and respond as the game develops.
Bellegarde serves the final match of his suspension and it will be handy to have him back because we don’t have any other made-to-measure attacking central midfielders.
Well done to Dallas Bob, Dek, Norsk Wolf, DancesWithWolves and DeptfordWolf for keeping the faith and getting the scoreline correct against Man City. Wokywolf leads the way in the overall table at the end of Gameweek 7.
A draw wouldn’t be an awful result, just to keep the momentum going and I’m going to back us to take a point. That’s based on being as resilient defensively as we were last Saturday. I think it will be difficult to keep them out but an entertaining 1-1 wouldn’t surprise me.
As always, if you’d like to join in with the Prediction League this season, it’s simple – just leave your prediction in the comment section below using the boxes provided. Then repeat for every preview article throughout the season, making sure you always use the same email address to make your prediction. Your email is what ties you to your overall score.
Up The Wolves!