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Match Previews

In Focus: Aston Villa

17 August 2017

Norwich City make the trip to Villa Park this Saturday, in a meeting between two of the biggest clubs in the Sky Bet Championship.

Aston Villa have brought in many big names from across the divisions since their relegation from the Premier League in 2015, but they’ve not had it all their own way. Here’s what City can expect from their test in the west Midlands on Saturday.

Summer signings
It was one of the most talked about transfers of the summer window and many eyebrows were raised when John Terry joined Villa from Chelsea on a free transfer.

One of English football’s greatest ever defenders, Terry has won 17 major honours, including the Premier League and FA Cup five times each and the UEFA Champions League in 2012.

He also earned 78 caps for England and captained his country on 34 of those appearances, making him a hugely experienced asset for Steve Bruce’s Villa side.

Along with Terry, Bruce has brought in a host of experienced heads to his squad for the 2017-18 season, with Ahmed Elmohamady and Glenn Whelan joining for £1 million each from Hull City and Stoke City respectively.

Bruce has also offered former Blackburn Rovers and QPR defender Christopher Samba a route back into English football. The 33-year-old spent last year at Greek side Panathinaikos and, like Terry, joined on a free transfer.

Villa’s squad will also contain a handful of talented youngsters this season after the acquisitions of Josh Onomah from Tottenham and Sam Johnstone from Manchester United, both on loan deals.

Key players
As well as the signings brought in this summer, Villa spent a lot of money over the course of last season to strengthen their squad.

In defence, James Chester, who signed for £9 million in 2016, brings experience to the fore having spent time in the Premier League with Hull City and West Bromwich Albion.

Attacking midfielder Conor Hourihane has impressed since joining Villa in January. The midfielder was instrumental to Barnsley’s early season form last year and played with current City player Marley Watkins at Oakwell.

Up front, Scott Hogan forms part of a formidable attack for the Villains. Like Hourihane, the former Brentford man joined in January 2017 and became their most expensive signing of that window, moving west for a fee of £9 million.

Hogan has struggled with injury since joining Bruce’s side but proves a real threat when fit, having scored 13 times in an 18-match spell for Brentford in the Championship last season.

In his place though, Villa rely heavily on the goals of Jonathan Kodija. The Frenchman was prolific for Bristol City between 2015 and 2016 and carried on his form for Villa, scoring 19 goals in 36 league game so far.

Form guide
After their below-par 13th place finish in the Sky Bet Championship season, Villa fans would have hoped for a better start to this campaign.

Unfortunately for them, Villa have started slowly this year and are currently sitting in the relegation zone after 3 matches.

Gabriel Agbonlahor opened the scoring in their opening day fixture against Hull City, only for Jared Bowen to equalise in the second half to ensure Villa only took a point from their first game.

Just days later they bounced back, overcoming Colchester United 2-1 in the Carabao Cup first round, before being beaten last weekend away at Cardiff City.

Their defeat to Reading in midweek made it a difficult start to the season for Villa and the pressure is already on to pick up some positive results.

In the squad
Goalkeepers: Sam Johnstone, Jed Steer, Mark Bunn.
Defenders: Richie De Laet, Neil Taylor, Christopher Samba, James Chester, James Bree, Micah Richards, Alan Hutton, Tommy Elphick, John Terry.
Midfielders: Glenn Whelan, Henri Lansbury, Jack Grealish, Conor Hourihane, Mile Jedinak, Josh Onomah, Andre Green, Birkir Bjarnarson, Gary Gardner, Ahmed Elmohamady, Albert Adomah.
Forwards: Scott Hogan, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Jonathan Kodjia, Ross McCormack.

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