It’s taken a while, but it looks as though Steve Bruce and his Aston Villa side are finally singing from the same hymn sheet, and that can only spell danger for every other Championship side next season.
Currently 11 points off the play-off spots with eight games remaining this campaign, it’s unlikely the West Midlands outfit will climb into the top six and push for promotion this time out.
But maybe that’s a good thing.
Were this Aston Villa side to go up this year, they’d no doubt struggle in the Premier League and would likely face immediate relegation back to the second tier.
However, a second year in the Championship would give this squad more time to gel, and a couple of additions in the summer would make Villa a real force in the division – and they’d be much more ready for a return to the top-flight by the end of the 2017-18 season.
It’s not something we saw coming a month ago though, when Bruce’s men were winless in 10 in all competitions.
In fact, at that time, the Villans were closer to the relegation zone than they were to the play –off spots.
But it’s all change now, with Villa winning five of their last six games without conceding, while their only defeat in that time came away at high-flying Huddersfield Town.
Having drawn more games than 18 other sides in the Championship this season, Villa have struggled for much of the campaign to turn draws into wins.
Draws and late goals have cost Villa this term
In fact, of those 12 games, they’ve taken the lead in eight, and conceded goals in the last 15 minutes resulting in two points dropped on five occasions.
Look away now Villa fans, because had your side not have conceded those late goals, you’d now be just one point off a play-off spot.
Having relied heavily on Jonathan Kodja’s goals for most of the season, it was defensively where Villa were falling short. And before this fine run of form, they’d conceded in 25 Championship matches – a figure which simply isn’t good enough for a club of their size and stature.
James Chester and Nathan Baker are keeping things tight in front of Sam Johnstone – on loan from Manchester United – who finally looks to have settled at Villa Park.
Kodja is still proving deadly at the other end of the field. Combine that with this new found solidity at the back, and the fact that January signing Scott Hogan grabbed his first Villa goal last time out away at Wigan Athletic, and the future really is looking bright.
And we’re expecting a fine end to the season for Bruce’s side, who can play out the remainder of the campaign under no pressure.
Momentum is with the Villans
Fans aren’t expecting a late promotion push, nor are they expecting a shock relegation.
And their remaining eight games allow them to test their wits against four sides in with a genuine chance of going up, as well as a long-awaited clash with Birmingham City at home.
It’s between now and May that we’ll see whether or not this side are capable of blitzing the league next year. At the moment, we reckon there’s every chance they’ll do exactly that.
But what do supporters think? Is this latest run anything to get excited about, or will we see a different Aston Villa in the coming weeks?
Have your say in the comments section below!
Bruce’s men will welcome Norwich City to Villa Park this weekend, and 7/5 says the hosts nick all three points.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing