Championship Gameweek 13: Back a Winning Start for Dean Smith5 min read
One of the major Championship news stories to arise over the international break is that Aston Villa have appointed Dean Smith as head coach.
The new boss spoke well in his press conference. Although he tapped into certain emotional connections, such as the fact his father had worked at the club, he also emphasized his focus on the practical side of the task at hand.
He appears to be embracing the opportunity to work alongside John Terry and the appointment of his trusted sidekick, Richard O’Kelly, dispels any notion that he might not be getting the terms he wants.
With Smith and Terry likely to get heroes welcomes from Villans and a packed-house forecasted by CEO Christian Purslow, this could be an afternoon in which the unique circumstances of the match are more significant than the bare statistics.
The fact the club are commemorating the life of the great Doug Ellis, whose admirable devotion to Aston Villa led to a combined 31 years as chairman over two spells, could add to the emotion of the occasion.
Of course, Swansea are a well-coached side. They were unlucky last time out to lose 3-2 to Ipswich, in which their second equalizer originated from goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt playing risky passing triangles in his own six-yard box with Leroy Fer and Connor Roberts, such is the conviction with which Graham Potter has stamped his identity on the team.
If one were to compare squads, on paper, however, nobody could deny that Villa are far stronger.
ICYMI: "It will be emotional but then I'll get my game head on" 💬
Dean Smith on walking out at Villa Park for the first time as our new Head Coach.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) October 17, 2018
For example, Dean Smith at Walsall and Brentford regularly picked number 10 Romaine Sawyers, who controlled play on the edge of the final third before slotting killer through balls.
He now has a player in Jack Grealish who can fulfil that role with even more quality, if his performances in the second half of last season are anything to go by.
Around Grealish is a plethora of quality options. Set piece specialist John McGinn has lit up the Championship, Conor Hourihane has the capacity to produce big moments, wide men Anwar El-Ghazi and Yannick Bolasie offer searing pace, versatile forward Jonathan Kodjia provides individualism while Tammy Abraham has proved a predatory goalscorer who is only improving.
That’s not to say there’s not talent in Swansea’s ranks – the likes of Bersant Celina and Oliver McBurnie are enjoying productive campaigns.
However, they have a quartet of regulars in Joe Rodon, Connor Roberts, Matt Grimes and George Byers who have a combined 58 appearances in the top two divisions of English football and while all four players are making wonderful strides, they are still at an early stage of their development.
Going to Villa Park and performing their normal game in front of 43k boisterous fans will be a massive ask and for that reason, our best bet for the Championship is a simple one: Villa to beat Swansea at Evens.
Aston Villa to win against Swansea
Read Gabriel Sutton’s League One Gameweek 14 Betting Preview here!