The feelgood factor around Aston Villa is particularly strong at the moment.
After convincingly dispatching promotion rivals Derby County and Middlesbrough on the road in recent weeks, results which sandwiched a Second City derby and a 5-5 thriller with Nottingham Forest, supporters are looking up the table ahead of 2019.
Before that arrives is another derby with Albion this Friday, but then come two huge matches at Villa Park in the space of eight days when Leeds United and Stoke City visit.
Ticket sales for these fixtures have been going well, the club have informed supporters, but in order to open the Trinity Road Stand Upper there needs to be one final push from claret and blue fans who haven’t already snapped up seats.
Both matches will already have more than 32,000 fans in attendance – but that total needs to exceed 34,000 before Villa can permit sales in the Trinity Road Upper.
By doing so, Villa could then potentially see sell-out crowds for the final two home games of 2018, against top Championship opposition.
Watch: The fans have been in great voice this season…
The latest odds
Aston Villa have seen their odds of winning the Championship slashed by the bookmakers.
Recent good form has seen Villa beat Birmingham City , draw 5-5 with Nottingham Forest and a 3-0 win over Middlesbrough at the Riverside.
That has seen the bookmakers slash their odds from 26-1 for promotion to just 10/3. They have also seen their odds of winning the title listed at 14-1.
That shows the progress that has been made under Dean Smith and now people are sitting up and taking notice of the work in progress at Villa Park.
Leeds United have also had their odds cut from 7/2 to 11/4 to win the league after they beat Sheffield United 1-0 on Saturday.
West Brom remain one of the favourites for promotion at 11/8 and 5/1 to win the league.
The recent good form of Birmingham hasn’t quite caused the ripples with the bookies yet.
They are 18/1 for promotion and 100/1 to win the league.
What might’ve been
Darren Moore might’ve watched Aston Villa as a boy growing up, but West Bromwich Albion is very much the club closest to his heart.
The Baggies head coach attended Holyhead Secondary School in Handsworth when he was growing up and was able to visit Villa Park in the 1980s thanks to tickets that the school received from the football club.
The footballers that caught his attention on a daily basis, though, were that of Albion, who trained at the school during the week.
Having returned to the West Midlands in 2001 to join Gary Megson’s Albion – in the middle of a promotion push – Moore became one of the professionals he’d longingly hoped to follow in the footsteps of.
Now, having come through the coaching ranks to rise to the top of the club, Moore has spoken passionately of the affinity he has with everyone at The Hawthorns.
Aston Villa are confident Chelsea won’t recall star striker Tammy Abraham in the January transfer window.
Reports surfaced earlier this week to suggest Chelsea could recall 21-year-old forward Abraham with Maurizio Sarri impressed by the forward’s recent goal glut.
Abraham has rattled in seven goals in his last four matches to take his tally to 11 in just 14 Villa appearances.
But Villa are confident that Abraham’s excellent form – and his exposure to first team football – will see Chelsea allow the striker to complete his season-long loan.
Dean Smith believes it’s ‘really important’ Aston Villa’s youngsters are let off the leash in the January transfer window.
With the injuries piling up Smith has recently called up a clutch of Kevin MacDonald’s under-23s to train with Villa’s first team and handed 18-year-old defender Dominic Revan a place on the bench against Middlesbrough.
But once the likes of Birkir Bjarnason, Henri Lansbury and Albert Adomah are back fit, Smith may find it tricky to provide Revan and Co with first team chances.
Freebies and injuries
Dean Smith says he hasn’t yet decided whether to offer James Collins an Aston Villa contract.
The 35-year-old centre-back continues to train at Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training complex but Smith is yet to be fully convinced.
“He’s still training with us,” Smith replied when asked about Collins.
“He’s not had the match exposure that I would want. He’ll continue to train with us until I feel he’s up to the standard where we can make a decision one way or the other.”
Meanwhile, Smith expects to be without Albert Adomah for Friday’s West Midlands derby with West Bromwich Albion.
The winger suffered a nasty injury during the 4-2 win over Birmingham City and has missed Villa’s last two matches as a result.
Source : BirminghamMail