Or a damp squib?
I’ll bet you know exactly what I’m going to say, because you’re no doubt thinking the same thing. Even if you’re not, I’m fairly confident that there will be at least a bit of niggle at the back of your mind.
It’s a banana skin game isn’t it?
There’s been quite a bit of talk on the news about the Christmas number one today, with Wham, Slade and
that hippy Sam Ryder all in the running. I’m only joking about the hippy bit, but he does remind me of Neil from The young ones.
Anyway, I’m not particularly interested in that, but I am definitely interested in the fact that a win tonight could make us the real Christmas number that counts.
We’d go 2 points clear, which would mean that if Liverpool and Arsenal were to draw, which seems a big possibility to me, we’d be top of the tree (get it?).
And that would be the first time we’ve been top of the tree since the Gregory days in the 1998/99 season, where sort of coincidentally, we beat Sheffield Wednesday to achieve it.
History is on our side for this game.
Utd haven’t beaten us in the league at Villa Park in sixty years, although Chris Wilder has beaten us twice as manager in their home games.
The Blades have lost 27 of their last 32 Premier League away fixtures, winning two and drawing three. Probably worse still, Gustavo Hamer is the only player to have scored a goal for them in all their away games this season. That’s bleak away form, to say the least.
Squad news and for us it could be worse.
Luiz and Digne are both back after suspensions.
The bad news is Kamara begins his 3 game suspension and the less said about that, the better, in my opinion.
Pau Torres has an ankle knock and I think Youri Tielemens has a similar issue. Traore seems no nearer and of course, Mings and Buendia are also out.
Also of some concern, John McGinn, Matty Cash and Jhon Duran are all only a card away from a suspension, although I do realise that the “5 yellows” only stays in place until after the Man Utd game. Hopefully, they can stay card-free, McGinn in particular.
As for Sheffield, they have six players injured, but I’m struggling to find out who they are, exactly. It appears Chris Wilder is keeping his cards close to his chest and there is talk of a squad shuffle. I detect something amiss at the club, because the manager has also talked about how he wants unwanted players gone and quickly. Has serious doom and gloom set in, I wonder?
However, good news for them is that Jack Robinson is back from a suspension.
Aha, more research shows that their injured players are Chris Basham, Daniel Jebbison, Tom Davies, John Egan, Rhys Norrington-Davies and Rhian Brewster.
Not that I’m particularly bothered.
Going back to things we haven’t done for ages, Ollie Watkins has scored 21 goals in this calendar year, the highest since Andy Gray in 1976, where he scored 24.
So a hat trick tonight would give him that new record, but maybe that’s asking too much? He does though, have tonight’s game and the Man U and Burnley games to achieve it, which I’d like to see.
It’s when I see those sorts of stats that it really starts to sink in about how well the lads are doing this year/season.
So tonight should be easy then, eh? Certainly the bookies think so, because they have us as massive favourites.
Rightly so, because we’re doing brilliantly and they’re, on the face of it, frankly awful.
But wasn’t it a similar thing when we lost to Forest? It’s difficult to believe that we’ve beaten Man City, Arsenal and Brentford in our last three games, but somehow managed to get beaten by a team where we were their only victory in 13 games.
And that’s exactly why I’m not counting my chickens for this one. While we’ve done incredibly well, we still have that propensity to lose to even the lowest of teams when things are looking good.
That said, I have to say I think we’re going to win this.
As I suggested above, I think there’s something wrong at Utd. Wilder has talked about how you can’t go into games without belief, which suggests that he has two choices. He either plays some players who don’t believe or swaps them out for possibly inferior players.
Which is intriguing, because if he does shuffle the pack, it could mean that he’s sidelined players and the atmosphere will probably be poor around the club.
I’m speculating though.
The only thing left, is the score.
I’m going for 3-1 to us.
In the hope that Ollie gets at least one.