Ahead of the trip to Villa Park, TEB had a chat with Cole Pettem from The Holtecast about the season so far, thoughts ahead of the game and much more.
Q. With the Premier League finding a way to get back playing again, were you for or against the return and regardless of your opinion, how do you think the powers that be have dealt with it?
I have always been for the Premier League returning as long as it was done in a cautious and calculated manner that maintains the safety of all personnel involved. When looking at how the powers that be have handled the situation (i.e. Premier League/The FA), I truly believe that they have handled it as best as it could be handled. It is a tough one because there are always going to be outliers that cannot be controlled or avoided, but I am generally pleased with the measures that have been taken thus far.
Q. It seems such a long time ago now but what did you make of the game at Selhurst Park earlier in the season?
Feels like I really have to get the juices flowing in my mind in order to remember this match since it feels as though it was years ago! For Villa, this game will always feel like “The point that got away” for a large majority of our fan base as Lansbury’s goal was mind-bogglingly ruled null and void; handing Palace with all three points. If anything a 1-0 loss has summarised Villa’s season as it has been filled with underwhelming performances and a lack of goal scoring prowess (even though I feel that we were hard done by as previously stated).
Q. How has the season been for you so far and what are you expecting from the run in?
At the time of writing, Watford have just beaten Norwich 2-1 at Vicarage Road, so Villa are well and truly in relegation mire at this point. A 4 point gap with 5 games to go has left Dean Smith’s men with a mountain to climb, but that has been much of our return to the Premier League so far this season. It is clear now that the summer recruitment philosophy did not fit Smith’s playing style and I believe that has been the biggest letdown this season. Essentially, we are in a scenario where he is fitting square pegs in round holes and we all know how that goes.
When it comes to the run-in, I have always been a firm believer that Villa will need at least 7 points from the final 5 games; the Palace fixture is one a large percentage of our fan base has been looking at as a potential win (not too sure why considering our lack of goal scoring prowess), so it will be interesting to see how things stand after Sunday’s match.
Q. The big question is, can you stay up?
As I have said before, Villa have a mountain to climb and there is a solid argument that there is simply too much left to do in order to avoid relegation. I am keeping the faith for now, but yes, I will be bold and say we will stay up and pull a miracle out of nowhere.
Q. Which areas need to be strengthened ahead of the next campaign?
Regardless of relegation or maintaining our Premier League status, Villa’s midfield will most likely need some remodelling with the statuses of Jack Grealish and John McGinn up in the air. Aside from the obvious and depending who is in charge next season, wide midfielders or wingers will also be needed as the combination of El Ghazi and Trezeguet just has not worked out.
Q. Who is your player of the season for Villa?
Jack Grealish; need I say more?
Q. Who will finish top four, which teams will be relegated and who would you like to see promoted?
My predictions are as follows and are in no specific order…
- Top 4: Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, and Manchester United
- Relegation: Norwich City, Bournemouth, and Watford
- Championship Promotion: Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion, and Brentford
Q. What have you made of Palace this season?
Roy Hodgson has done a fantastic job with the squad he has had to work with and I think that really does need to be applauded. This Premier League season has been tough for everyone given the obvious circumstances and I think surviving for another year only allows for Palace to push on to bigger things with the ambitions that every team in the Premier League has.
Q. Name one player from each side that will be the ones to watch in this fixture?
For Villa, Douglas Luiz has been a shining light since Project Restart has come into play. His ability to control the Villa midfield and his willingness to move play forward has been one of the major shining lights on a tough season for us.
When it comes to Palace, I think ex-Villan, Jordan Ayew, is definitely one to look out for. A former player with the potential to score against his old club? Seems likely to me.
Q. Your prediction?
Villa need a win BADLY, so I will be bold and go with a 1-0 win to the home side.