I’m getting a bit fed up of saying it now, but I won’t get to see this game, even though it’s a five thirty kick-off.
Still, it is what it is and I’ll try and keep up with the score as best I can while I’m working.
There’s no doubt this game is going to be a very tough test for Dean Smith’s side and we all know what we’re going to get from any Pulis team.
They’ll mostly sit back and defend really well with a defence that has only conceded 10 goals this season; which is very impressive.
At the same time, they’ll look to counter-attack and with our defence being what it is (absolute rubbish, the more I think about Wednesday’s horror show), I’d say it’s very likely that they’ll score at least one goal.
I’ve seen many suggestions that our defence really needs to train more, but I think there’s more to it than that and there has to be a major overhaul at the back, because the defence is just intrinsically bad and I don’t think you’ll ever teach them as a unit.
And, yes, as much as I didn’t want to say it, it begins with the goalkeeper. He has to go, as much as Dean Smith has said he’s backing him. We need better.
Which all in all means I can’t see anything other than Smith sending his troops out with only one motive.
Attack and score as many as you can.
Which isn’t as bad as it sounds, in my opinion.
We’ve quite rapidly become the league’s second highest scorers after West Brom and I’d expect us to overtake them in quick fashion.
Tammy Abraham has proved that if you give him chances, he’ll get us goals, hasn’t he?
Squad news and Hutton is suspended for totting up, meaning Elmohamady will take the right back position.
Bree and Jedinak haven’t trained this week, so they’re not available.
Otherwise, I think we’re pretty much the same as Wednesday and the only question for me, is will Whelan replace Hourihane and take up a holding role to try and shore up the defence?
That certainly doesn’t fit with the “attack” thing and I suspect Hourihane will start, but given the way teams walk through our last third, it’s something Smith might consider.
John McGinn is a bit of a doubt, as he wasn’t fully fit against Forest, but he apparently wants to play all the time.
Fair play to him and I’d guess he gets his way.
On Boro’s part, Gestede is out because of a hamstring and Lewis Wing faces a late fitness test.
So it’s all about who can get the most goals, I reckon.
Boro are a very canny side, but we have proven we can score goals.
I seriously reckon we can score two. As good as Boro’s defence might be, they haven’t faced us yet.
But I have massive doubts about our defence being able to withstand much pressure, especially when you consider Forest had five shots on target with five goals the result.
I’m going for a 2-3 defeat, but I don’t think any scoreline would surprise me.
Much depends on who scores first.
If it’s Boro, it could be a long old game for the Villa.
But if it’s us, I’d expect this to be a cracking game, where anything might happen.
Probably a boring 1-0 then.