Two former Premier League heavyweights meet at Villa Park tonight as Aston Villa take on Leeds Utd with the Championship title race really hotting up.
The Festive football is coming thick and fast and with both these sides having realistic ambitions of a return to the top flight we could be in for a pulsating encounter.
Steve Bruce has come in as manager of the Midlands club and really turned things around, with the Villa now moving up to ninth spot in the Championship following a 2-1 win over Burton in their previous match.
Villa Park has become something of a fortress in recent weeks, with the side still unbeaten at home and gunning for their sixth home win on the bounce as the side really puts the afterburners on in their hunt for promotion to the Premier League.
Its been a dramatic turnaround for the Midlands outfit following a dismal run of form under the management of Italian Roberto Di Matteo and the side now look like serious contenders for at least a Championship playoff place as we approach the new year.
Garry Monk has similarly turned things around at Leeds, with the Yorkshire side now in fifth spot in the Championship and hunting an automatic promotion spot. The Lilywhites have improved dramatically and now sit handsomely in the division following eight wins out of their last ten games.
Both these sides will be desperate not to lose and its looking more and more like a pivotal match even as we approach 2017. It can’t be underestimated the work Steve Bruce has done at Villa Park and the 23/10 offers considerable appeal.
Leeds Utd will be looking to continue their fine away form and the 3/1 on them taking all three poinits back to Yorkshire also looks more than a touch of value.
It make be better however to plump for the draw at 5/2, with both sides eager not to lose.
Liverpool willing to listen to loan offers for young striker
Liverpool are thought to be open to loan offers for their young English striker Rhian Brewster once the transfer window opens in January.
Reds manager Jurgen Klopp is believed to be in favour of allowing the 19-year-old to gain first-team experience out on loan.
The forward has only featured in the Carabao Cup this season, failing to score or particularly impress in either of his appearances.
Regardless, he is said to be attracting interest from Crystal Palace and Aston Villa in the Premier League, as well as a host of Championship clubs.
As usual when negotiating loan deals for their young talent, Liverpool will studiously seek assurances over Brewster’s playing time at any potential temporary home before giving the green light.
The current Premier League leaders opening up to a loan move is arguably a slight setback for a player who signed a five-year deal in the summer of 2018, and was targeting a place in the first-team accordingly.
“I want to prove to everyone that the boss has kept faith in me for a reason and I want to prove to everyone that I’m good enough to be in the first team,” Brewster said earlier this year.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite worked out that way for Brewster yet.
A long-term ankle injury incurred in January 2018, keeping him on the side-lines for over a year, has undoubtedly held back his previously rapid progress.
As such, it may be a case of taking a step backwards to move two steps forward.
It’s certainly worked out that way for Tammy Abraham, whose successful loan spells at Bristol City and Aston Villa in the Championship convinced his new manager Frank Lampard that he was worthy of a prolonged spell as Chelsea’s first-choice striker this campaign.
Abraham has duly rewarded his manager’s faith, scoring ten league goals in thirteen games. Moreover, the 22-year-old looks set to head to the European Championship next summer as England’s second-choice striker behind Harry Kane.
Abraham’s development provides no guarantee for Brewster, of course, but in an exclusive interview with Scouted Football last month, Brewster suggested he is fully aware of the hard work ahead of him.
“You can’t think it’s easy and you’re just going to get there with your talent, because you need to work hard as well,” he said.
“I’ve seen a lot of people with talent but not everyone makes it because of the attitude and the drive.”
In the same interview, Brewster described his healthy relationship with Klopp, and the advice the German gave him:
“My relationship with him [Jürgen Klopp] is very, very good. He’s easy to approach and easy to talk to. I think you need a manager like that.
“[He tells me] be patient and you’ll play. Wait for your time and hopefully it’ll come.”
Time is certainly on Brewster’s side to come good at Liverpool; after all, no club gives a young player yet to make his Premier League debut a deal as lengthy as five years without a long-term plan.
Like Abraham has done, though, it appears he will need to prove he is good enough elsewhere first in order to fulfil it.
Aston Villa and Swansea go head to head for Chelsea youngster
Aston Villa or Premiership new boys Swansea City are now favourites to land Chelsea FC youngster Josh McEachran on loan in January.
Chelsea are desperate to get McEachran, who turns 19 next March, some valuable experience on the pitch, something he has not been able to do at Stamford Bridge. Both Villa and Swansea are preapred to bring the youngster to their respective clubs under the proviso that he will need to be involved in first team matters.
McEachran has already been touted as one of England’s best up and coming central midfielders and is yet to play anywhere else apart from his childhood club.
The 18 year old is likely to be loaned out to one of the two Premiership sides despite being linked with a move to a few Championship sides over the last few months, and will remain at either club until the end of the season.
Villa are currently lacking experience in the midfield area so quite where McEchran will be able to fit in remains somewhat of a mystery. Swansea City on the other hand would welcome his quality and with the Welsh side having close ties with the West London side – manager Brendan Rodgers being a previous Chelsea youth team manager – it could be assumed that Swansea would be favourites.
Aston Villa vs Burton – Team News, Live Stream from Villa Park as Steve Bruce Resurgence Continues
There are plenty of things for Villa fans to smile about at the moment with the side turning the corner somewhat following the arrival of Steve Bruce to the Midlands Club.
Following a difficult period under the leadership of Roberto Di Matteo, the ex Hull man was brought in and has transformed the side to one which now has eyes on automatic promotion back to the Premier League.
With only two defeats in their last eight games, the side has risen to ninth in the table and there is now genuine optimism around the club that they can indeed push for a return back to the top flight.
A win last Sunday against QPR really boosted confidence, the winner coming from striker Jon Kodjia.
For a striker it’s important to score regularly. I hadn’t scored for three games but I did at QPR and that obviously made me happy and helped the team.
“I’m happy, the players are happy, the gaffer is happy – it was a good day.
“Against Norwich we had a bad game. The team did not play well, the whole team.
“But this weekend we were better and we won.
“Newcastle and Brighton are doing well and lots of teams at the top end of the table are going on winning runs and hopefully we can do the same.
The same cannot be said for Burton, who find themselves already in the midst of a relegation battle at the foot of the Championship, and things look pretty bleak as we approach the Christmas period.
Burton currently have the second worst away record in the division, having not won any of their last 11 trips on the road. The home win is suprisingly available at 8/11, which looks a tasty price considering Burton’s aformentioned away form and the recent home form of the Villa.
Steve Bruce’s side now look a tough outfit to break down and have won their last four matches at Villa Park on the bounce.
Its difficult not to get involved at that price and we’re confident that Steve Bruce’s side can conjure up another home win, which will surely push them into serious contenders for a playoff spot as we approach the New Year.
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