Plenty of potential
Dean Smith reckons Anwar El Ghazi is coming into serious contention for a place in the Aston Villa starting XI after the winger got off the mark in claret and blue.
El Ghazi scored the fifth goal for Villa on Wednesday night against Nottingham Forest, a strike that for a while looked as though it may have earned all three points against their ten-man visitors.
Though Villa had to settle for a point on the night, the Dutchman might well have provided Smith with extra food for thought, particularly with Albert Adomah missing against his former club Boro.
Having seen him in training and in a behind closed doors friendly where El Ghazi matched Tammy Abraham’s haul of four goals in a single game, Smith is well aware of the potential.
Will El Ghazi get the nod?
Ahmed Elmohamady will indeed replace the suspended Alan Hutton at Middlesbrough as Aston Villa seek a fifth straight match without defeat.
Villa boss Dean Smith confirmed in his pre-match press conference at Bodymoor Heath on Thursday that the Egyptian, as expected, will come straight into the starting XI on Riverside with Hutton due to serve a one-match ban after collecting five yellow cards.
Hutton, who scored a marvellous goal against Blues last Sunday, was cautioned for his consequent celebrations and then picked up another yellow in the dramatic 5-5 draw with Nottingham Forest on Wednesday.
Aston Villa have offered James Collins a five-week deal.
Collins has been on trial at Bodymoor Heath for the past few months after being released by West Ham United.
Dean Smith has decided to offer the Welsh defender a short term deal.
The situation will then be reviewed again in January.
Smith has taken the decision to bolster Villa’s defence, albeit on a temporary basis initially, because of the club’s recent defensive worries.
Villa have shipped seven goals in their past two matches, beating Birmingham City 4-2 and drawing 5-5 with Nottingham Forest.
Although Axel Tuanzebe is growing into his central defensive role, there have been concerns over the form of James Chester.
When it comes to nullifying the Aston Villa attacking threat – there is nobody better to do it than Tony Pulis.
That’s the view of Middlesbrough legend Bernie Slaven who believes the Boro boss will have a tactical plan to put a stop to Villa’s dangerous attacking threat.
Speaking to TeesideLive , Slaven said: “Aston Villa may come looking to attack again but I don’t see another five all draw at the Riverside. No way.
“Tony Pulis will have watched the Forest game and will working out how he can get 12 men on the pitch so he can play an extra defender!
“He will be looking to stop the Villa threat. They put five past Forest and got four against Birmingham the game before so they are on fire but Pulis will go out to throw a tactical bucket of water over them.
“He certainly won’t go gung-ho against them like Aitor Karanka did.
“Pulis has tended to be very cautious and play very deep against the better sides and I can’t see that changing too much.
“He will want to get a grip of them early on, stop their attacking threat and then start to turn the screw.”
Source : BirminghamMail