Rival Lines

Match Preview: Aston Villa v AFCB
Blogger Interview: A Villa Fan
Twitter: @Avillafan

This weekend we kick off AFCB's first away game and it is against Aston Villa. I managed to grab a word with Stuart Young who works on the A Villa Fan website to see how he thinks Aston Villa will go this season and who we should be looking out for.

CC: What has Dean Smith given Aston Villa that previous managers were unable to do to get them to win matches?

AVF: He has given them belief. Jack Grealish highlighted this last week when he stated that Smith makes him feel like the best player in the world.

On top of that he has United a relatively split dressing room, and even club. The fans and players are one for the first time in a very long time. There is a real buzz around the place.

Something that impresses me personally is that he doesn’t insult the fans intelligence. For example, the defeat to Spurs, he highlighted where we did well and where it went wrong. Previous managers would have just taken the 3-1 defeat as a positive.

CC: Although Villa lost the first game against Spurs, did you see plenty of positives about the performance for the season ahead?

AVF: Yes. As I have already stated, there is a plan by the hierarchy at Aston Villa and the fans are on board.

The constant comparisons are embarrassing from a journalism point of view. As Christian Purslow stated on Sky Sports News on Monday night - there was a plan out together that has been executed. Now we can only hope the plan is enough to see us progress in the right way.

CC: John McGinn scored a great goal against Spurs. Is that the kind of goal he would do regularly in the Championship, holding off the last defender and picking his spot?

AVF: John McGinn reminds me of Gareth Barry a little. They both use their body very well to keep the ball. He is of course a lot more active on the field. McGinn will surprise a few away from B6 season in the Premiership.

CC: Which player would you say is your best signing of the summer and why?

AVF: Engels looks very impressive and Trezeguet could add that little bit of magic once he settles in. But I think Tom Heaton might prove to be a great bit of business.

Not only does he have the experience but he is apparently a very good character to have around the dressing room. Something Smith seems to be very keen on.

CC: How special will next Saturday be when Aston Villa plays its first home match back in the Premier League?

AVF: I think that the game is most likely going to be a sell out, tells you everything you need to know. We believe we are back where we belong. Now we have to prove it.

CC: Can you see all three promoted sides surviving in the Premier League this season?

AVF: No. I think Norwich will regret not spending more money than they did. Sheffield United will be an interesting one as they won’t lie down and die. They have the never say die attitude but discipline may prove their downfall. Time will tell.

I am confident that we will stay up but we must get some points on the board ASAP.

CC: Is Jack Grealish a much better player than last time Villa were in the Premier League - how has his game developed?

AVF: Jack has grown up. He has matured. We have always known he has the talent but he needed to get his head in the right place which I believe he has now.

On top of that, he has added some muscle and he is closer to the complete product. But he must prove himself at the top level and no-one knows that more than Jack.

CC: What have you made of Tom Heaton in goal - was the keeper position something fans were worried about this season?

Many fans believed Jed Steer should have been given the chance of playing in the Premiership following his heroics last season.

Saying that, we did need that we experienced head in goal. The saves he has pulled off against RB Leipzig and Tottenham in recent weeks are showing just what a signing he could be for Villa.

CC: What position do you believe Aston Villa will end the season in?

AVF: We must aim as high as possible but I think we will finish around 12-14th.

CC: How do you think Aston Villa will line up against Bournemouth?

AVF: I think you will see a slightly more attacking side that the one you would have seen against Tottenham.

I believe Targett will come in for Taylor and Guilbert might replace Elmo. The only thing keeping Elmo in the side would be to help Trezeguet.

We may also see Luiz or Marvelous come in for Hourihane which will allow the wing backs to get forward while offering them cover.

Predicted XI: Heaton; Elmo, Engels, Mings, Target; Luiz, McGinn, Grealish; Jota, Trezeguet; Wesley.

CC: What is your score prediction?

AVF: I am going to go for a 2-0 home win. As I have already said, I believe we need to get points on the board especially at home.

CC: Great information from Stuart. While there are some Villa fans who expect their team to walk into the top six, Stuart can see that nothing is won easily in the Premier League. I fancy this will be a close match and perhaps there will be one or two mistakes on either side. I don't believe that defence is the strength of either team so I'm going for a 2-2 scoreline.

You should also see in the next couple of days some answers to the questions Stuart set me on the A Villa Fan website about AFC Bournemouth.

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