After our bubble-bursting defeat to Leeds, Villa face an in-form Southampton side who have won three out of the last four.
Villa fans will be hoping for a quick return to winning ways but the omens are patchy at best. We’ve won just once in our last eleven games against the boys from St Mary’s, and suffered a 6-1 hammering in 2015. Historically, it’s even-steven, with Villa on 28 wins, Saints on 27, and 23 draws.
After our encouraging start to season 2020-21, Villa fans are most likely split between heady optimism and Midlands-style weary cynicism before our game with Fulham this Monday.
Regardless where your mindset falls, matching Sheffield United for toughness whilst maintaining discipline and looking dangerous throughout was certainly a vast improvement on last seasons often lightweight efforts.
Our second string then looked imperious at times during our League Cup tie with Bristol City, suggesting Dean Smith’s work in building a culture of excellence at Villa Park is beginning to bear fruit. The performances of Davis and Traore in particular will have been noted by their opposite numbers in the first team.
A debut goal is a thing of beauty. It unites fans, teammates and the new player in a common delight rarely experienced elsewhere. After all, there are few walks of life where it’s possible to get off to such a prominent start in your new job.
So when news filtered through (most of us weren’t watching) of Bertrand Traore’s wonder strike at Ashton Gate, there was a particular delight that we might have something special on our hands for season 2020-21.