Barnsley vs Aston Villa Preview: Recent Form, Key Battle, Team News & More
Barnsley welcome Aston Villa to Oakwell on Saturday evening, in what has become a huge clash for Steve Bruce’s side.
After winning just one league game so far this season, the former Sunderland and Hull manager is under pressure from Villa fans to start picking up points.
And they certainly won’t have an easy ride against a Barnsley side who are currently above the Villans in the table, despite playing a game less. The Tykes are also buoyed from their dramatic late victory against Derby on Tuesday night, where they secured a third round League Cup trip to Wembley against Tottenham.
Saturday’s Championship clash is also particularly significant for Irish midfielder Conor Hourihane. The former Barnsley captain swapped Yorkshire for the Midlands last January, and this weekend will mark his first return to Oakwell.
It’s been a mixed bag so far for Barnsley, who have gained seven points from their last five league games.
But one thing that hasn’t been inconsistent from Paul Heckington’s men is their ability to score goals at home, having netted 16 in six games in all competitions at Oakwell so far this season.
That includes scoring three in each of their last two home games against Derby and Sunderland.
Despite the Villans’ poor run of results recently, the team are unbeaten in their last four league games, and five in all competitions.
The issue for Villa has been killing games off and have drawn their last three matches.
Worryingly for the Midlands club, their away form is terrible. Villa have failed to win any of their last six away league matches, dating back to last year.
The only new absentee for the Tykes is Gary Gardner, who is ineligible against his parent club.
Paul Heckington will be delighted he can call on the services of skipper Angus MacDonald once again. The defender has been suspended for the last three games following his dismissal against Sheffield United last month.
Andre Green is the latest Villa player to be sidelined through injury, with Bruce this week confirming he could be out for several months.
The winger joins Jack Grealish and Rushain Hepburn-Murphy as Villa's long term absentees.
Bruce is unlikely to start either Mile Jedinak or Jonathan Kodjia for the trip to Yorkshire. The duo played their first league games of the season on Tuesday, but neither are expected to figure heavily on Saturday as they are being eased back into the first team.
Henri Lansbury's controversial red card against Middlesbrough has been overturned, meaning he is available for Saturday's clash.
Potential Barnsley Starting Lineup: Davies, McCarthy, Jackson, McDonald, Pearson, Williams, Potts, Moncur, Hammill, Ugbo, Hedges.
Potential Aston Villa Starting Lineup: Johnstone, Hutton, Chester, Terry, Taylor, Whelan, Onomah, Hourihane, Snodgrass, Davies, Agbonlahor.
Adam Hammill v Neil Taylor
Hammill is certainly Barnsley's star man and is the player most likely to create goalscoring opportunities for the home side.
The winger proved his capabilities again on Tuesday night by bagging an 88th minute winner against Derby.
Welsh full-back Neil Taylor will have to be on top of his game to stop Barnsley's tricky playmaker.
The former Swansea man has endured an indifferent start to the season, something Villa fans will be hoping he soon puts right.
This is a tough one to call due to Barnsley's goalscoring capabilities against a Villa defence which has conceded just one in their last three games.
The Villans' dire away form means they are unlikely to pick up three points against a Barnsley side who are strong at home.
A draw seems likely from this one, something Heckington will certainly be happier about than his counterpart in the opposite dug-out.
Prediction: Barnsley 1-1 Aston Villa