Aston Villa face Fulham on Thursday night with the pressure on Steven Gerrard and the players to get a much-needed win.
Our four-game unbeaten run was ended by Chelsea on Sunday, but issues in the side were already evident given our unconvincing performances and inability to score goals prior to that.
Villa have picked up just nine points from 10 Premier League games so far this season, scoring seven goals in those 10 outings, and amid growing speculation over his future at the club, Gerrard will know how important this week is.
Our poor form dates back to last season as we have just four wins in our last 21 games, and we simply haven’t seen any consistency or any sign of Gerrard having long-term solutions.
Time will tell if this is indeed his last stand and whether or not he can convince the Villa ownership to stick by him moving forward, but he will know that defeat to Fulham in midweek could be a final blow.
Gerrard to stick with same Villa XI?
Emiliano Martinez will continue between the posts, while Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings and Ashley Young will likely continue in a back four, albeit the likes of Calum Chambers and Jan Bednarek will no doubt be knocking on the door to get a chance to impress.
With Mings making a critical mistake against Chelsea, there might be an argument to make a switch in the middle, but his general form in recent weeks has been strong and so it’s expected that Gerrard will show faith in him.
While we continue to wait for changes in midfield, is it ever likely to materialise? John McGinn, Douglas Luiz and Jacob Ramsey are seemingly undroppable, and so that means Leander Dendoncker, Marvelous Nakamba and Morgan Sanson will be vying for spots on the bench.
The big call for Gerrard comes in the final third. Villa looked threatening against Chelsea and caused them real problems in the first half last weekend, with Ollie Watkins looking dangerous at times on the left wing as Danny Ings was deployed through the middle.
Combined with the pace and directness of Leon Bailey on the opposite flank, we looked good for periods last time out and given we’re now away from home and likely to play on the counter slightly more as we try to soak up pressure from Fulham, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if that frontline remains unchanged.
Neither Philippe Coutinho nor Emiliano Buendia have been able to decisively influence games when involved with any real consistency, and so time will tell if they are both sat on the bench again for this one.
Meanwhile, Cameron Archer is back from illness and should be available, and while many supporters have been calling for him to get a chance for some time now given his goalscoring ability, time will tell if Gerrard finally gives him significant minutes here to impress. Going on previous indications, it doesn’t seem likely.
Aston Villa predicted XI vs Fulham (4-3-3): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Young; Luiz, McGinn, Ramsey; Bailey, Watkins, Ings.