Everyone’s thinking about this one already and I’m the same, so before you all pre-empt what I am or am not thinking, I guess I’d better get a post out there.
The big and obvious question is do we rest players, knowing we’re guaranteed fifth place in the play-offs?
My opinion is quite simply, no, we don’t.
The view I’ve always held is that you should always do your utmost to win any game. I think that many of us forget that the aim of football is to score more goals than the opponent.
Of course, that’s far too simplistic and sometimes, logically, it’s worth sacrificing one game with the aim of winning another.
I struggle to think like that.
Where did it get us when we seemingly sacrificed a European game, for us to only fail to get a result against Stoke, under MON, for example?
No, I just don’t see what we’d achieve.
But that’s not to say that players shouldn’t be rested if they genuinely need it.
John McGinn springs to mind here. He’s run his guts out all season and you have to wonder how much even a player with his energy has in the tank.
No doubt we’ll find out, as the medical team and the sports scientists who monitor this sort of thing will surely know.
Resting Grealish might also be a good shout, because if I was being cynical, I might think Leeds would want to take him out, just in case we meet them in the final.
But otherwise, we should play our strongest team, with the aim of beating Leeds and keeping us in with a shout of overtaking the Albion.
It’s all academic though, as Dean Smith is very much his own man and the Villa fan in him will want us to beat Leeds.
If we could beat them, how much of a kick in the teeth would it be for them?
But he’ll have to temper things with trying to achieve promotion, which is his ultimate aim.
The one thing that worries me about our current position is the ten out of ten wins.
We’re now counting down the games until we lose one, as no record-breaking run can continue forever.
So, just maybe, this is one we can afford to lose, while it doesn’t really matter?
On second thoughts, I think I’d rather win this and lose to Norwich, where it won’t affect anything.
I’ll post my thoughts on how I think we’ll actually get on tomorrow.