Despite a raft of January signings, Steve Bruce’s side looked far from capable of mounting a late promotion charge in Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat at Brentford at Griffin Park.
Even with Jonathan Kodjia back to lead the line, we dropped to 14th place in the Championship with a ninth blank in 15 matches away from home. We have collected two points, and scored just three goals, in the five league fixtures since Boxing Day. Perhaps more alarmingly, we have shipped five goals in the last two, after conceding two goals on just one occasion in the first 15 matches under Bruce.
We may only be four points further off the playoffs than before this five-match winless run, but it is the number of teams stacking up between Villa and the top six that is the problem. On Boxing Day, we were just two points off seventh placed Fulham, whereas now there are five teams outside of the top six with five or more points than us.
Saturday’s opponents Nottingham Forest have endured a difficult season, but interim manager Gary Brazil has steadied the ship at the City Ground. After a home loss against Barnsley on 2 January, Philippe Montanier’s penultimate match in charge, Forest were just two points above the bottom three. However, after home wins over Bristol City and basement boys Rotherham United, they are now eight points clear of the relegation zone.
With Conor Hourihane and Henri Lansbury making their second Villa appearances and a likely debut for striker Scott Hogan, Villa should be equipped to arrest the slide. EnergyBet has priced the former Barnsley striker, who has 14 league goals this season, at a favourable 9.70 to open his Villa account at the first time of asking.
No team has kept fewer home clean sheets than Forest, while only Blackburn’s Ewood Park has seen more games featuring both teams scoring than the 10 at the City Ground. With Hogan and Kodjia in tandem for Villa, both teams to score is a safe bet at 1.90 on EnergyBet.
EnergyBet Match Odds:
Forest 3.00 | Draw 3.20 | Blackburn 2.35