I’ve been looking to post something about the game for a couple of days at least, but I’m not really sure what to say or to think, to be honest.
We all know how big the game is and you don’t need me to tell you that.
But the thing is, this one particularly is as it could prove season-defining (didn’t I say the same last week?) because we could do with another win to firmly establish the good momentum we’ve created.
I firmly believe that if we can beat our neighbours tomorrow, we can go on a really strong run which would very soon have us pushing for the automatic promotion places. My reasoning is that we all know we have a very good squad, even if you factor in it’s weaknesses; it’s just about getting the belief into the players.
And if Bruce can drag the win out of the team tomorrow, there is simply no other team in this league to fear.
Couple us going on a decent run with Bruce being able to strengthen in a little over two months and well, the world’s our lobster isn’t it?
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
My big fear is we have every chance of losing tomorrow, which of course none of us want to see.
And if that were to happen, I worry that it might set us back.
So I’m going to come clean in that as much as over the years I’d back us to win nine times out of ten, so things are a lot closer between the two clubs now. Which means I’d happily settle for a draw.
Think about it. While obviously it’s not as good as a win, so at least the scum don’t get the bragging rights and our fragile players have no reason for whatever poor mentality to set back in.
So quite simply, the requirement is that we don’t lose.
But the good news is while I’ve been worrying about losing and having to suffer all the noses I know giving me grief, I actually think we will win this. Or more accurately, we can.
I had a chat with a long time nose friend at work on Wednesday and he was somewhat concerned with how slow their defence is.
We had a bit of a laugh when I told him ours was probably slower, but I was highly encouraged because we have the players who can exploit that.
He also expressed concern about the attack and said he’d play some young kid they have, who isn’t getting a game, up front. Okay our defence isn’t brilliant, but it’s looked better with Chester and Baker in the middle. They should be capable of nullifying a poor attack.
And then there’s form. We’re on a very nice little run, thank you, while Blues lost to Forest and Burton recently.
Just as a Villa win was looking incredibly unlikely just a couple of weeks back (imagine us going into this with RDM still in charge?), so it’s a really bad time for Blues to hit a bad patch of form.
Interestingly, my friend’s biggest question was if I thought Gabby would be getting a game. They really do fear him.
My answer was that he had better well bloody not do! And that there was more chance of me plaiting snot.
Team news then and I couldn’t give a stuff who’ve they’ve got playing. It’s the derby isn’t it, where they could put the second string out and you know you’re going to be in a game.
Because beating the Villa is all they care about. It’s their FA cup and Premier league title all rolled into one.
As for us, I don’t think anything has changed.
Elphick and Richards are both still out, but Adomah is now fully fit.
Well, to my mind it picks itself (unless you’re RDM) and Adomah, who looked very lively last time out comes in for Gestede.
Otherwise it’s the same as against Fulham (who interestingly spanked Huddersfield 5-0 today).
Nothing clever there, it’s just common sense isn’t it?
So now the tricky part and the prediction.
I’m minded to say we’ll win this, but I don’t want to tempt fate, because at the back of my mind, I know it’s the Villa, where things haven’t gone well, for so long, which has left me upset so many times.
How sad is that, where I’m scared to predict we’ll win? I think the team’s fragility must have rubbed off on me.
So even though it seems Villa are the bookie’s favourites, I’m going to hedge my bet.
And go for a 1-1 draw.
Which will leave me open to utter elation if we win and a bit less disappointment if we lose.