Our last three games have all been very tough propositions, yet we coped with them all really well, scoring eight goals and only conceding one (a somewhat flukey one, too).
I still can’t get my head around how much better we’ve been with Grealish back in the side.
But that aside, I mentioned previously that some teams currently in the top six might falter.
Indeed, it seems Derby are already in their annual free fall act as we speak, having taken only nine points from their last eight games.
As for Villa’s last eight games, we’ve taken twelve points. But when you consider we’ve taken nine in the last three, it shows how bad our previous form was (three points in the previous five games).
No wonder we all thought we hadn’t got a chance of promotion.
Which leads me on to Middlesbrough, who have taken eleven points in eight games, but importantly, have lost their last two games (at home) albeit to good opposition in Preston and Brentford.
Interestingly, they have quite a poor record at home, but have a very decent record away.
Which makes sense, with the way Pulis sets his teams up to not concede, while trying to hit on the break.
Which, while dead boring is obviously quite successful, because they have by far the meanest defence in the league having conceded only 28 goals.
Squad news and on our part, nothing has changed.
El Ghazi is fit, after he went off with an arm problem.
Tuanzebe and Lansbury should be available for the Blackburn game and Chester and Hutton are doing light training.
As for Boro, the big news is that defender Dani Ayala has successfully appealed his sending off on Wednesday and will be available. Otherwise, I’m not seeing much else about them, but Pulis has suggested he might “freshen things up”.
I really don’t see that Dean Smith will change anything for this game.
John McGinn quickly re-staked his claim for a place and has to start.
It’s tempting to think that El Ghazi might be replaced by Green, but I think the manager will be prepared to give the Dutchman another game, as he definitely sees that he does have some threat.
An unchanged team then, with similar subs to the other night.
It’s actually a very nice position for Smith to be in, as the team is pretty much picking itself.
It seems to me our biggest problem is going to be unlocking Boro’s defence.
We definitely have the tools to do it, but we have to be very wary that they don’t catch us on the break, although fortunately that’s not quite the problem it was earlier in the season.
I don’t see many goals and strongly think the first goal could easily prove the winner.
Let’s hope it’s us that gets it and condemns Boro to their third consecutive defeat, which could easily send them on their way to the “wheels falling off”.
Villa to win 1-0 in a very cagey game.