Aston Villa fans were treated to incredible drama on Wednesday night: a 5-5 draw with 10-man Nottingham Forest, in which the Villans had two goals disallowed in injury-time!

There might be question marks defensively about this Villa side but, having scored one more goal than they did in the previous game in each of their last four encounters, there is so much to like about them going forward.



Striker Tammy Abraham, in particular, can bully defenders with his power as well as his intelligence and he looks set to be a star of the Championship season after becoming the first second-tier player to bag four goals in one game since Leon Clarke achieved the feat for Sheffield United 12 months ago.


By contrast, Middlesbrough drew 1-1 at Preston on Tuesday, but they were far less enterprising and perhaps fortunate to avoid defeat.


The Teessiders came under a lot of pressure, especially in the first half and needed an excellent goal-line clearance from Aden Flint to keep them in the contest.


Tony Pulis employs a very defensive setup


He will often start three centre-backs – Flint, Danny Batth and Daniel Ayala – with wing-backs in Dael Fry and George Friend who are comfortable enough in possession without being likely to offer pace and width.


Then, they have a holding midfielder in Adam Clayton who almost never breaks ahead of the ball; George Saville brings energy but not a great deal more while Jonny Howson moves forward only with the intention of winning free-kicks.


Having eight outfield players who are focused primarily on what Boro do without the ball has certainly helped their remarkable defensive record, which reads nine goals conceded.


The setup does, however, limit them going forward.


The question, therefore, is whether Aston Villa can pick their way through this rear-guard, with what could be as much as 70

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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