Aston Villa will be looking to turn a strong performance against Arsenal into a win against fellow bottom-three stragglers Reading in a huge mid-week clash at Villa Park.
OVERALL: 2-4-7, 10 pts, -12 GD
LAST 5: D-L-L-W-D
OVERALL: 1-6-5, 9 pts, -6 GD
LAST 5: L-W-D-D-D
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
- Goals. No team has scored fewer of them than Aston Villa this season, and given the team's commitment to attacking football that's more than a little bit of a concern. Reading has allowed 22 on the season, so they can be broken down, but whether Villa has the firepower to hurt the opposition no matter their defensive quality is a very serious question.
- Villa's makeshift back line. Ron Vlaar is nursing an injury, Richard Dunne is still struggling to get back to match fitness, and I don't know whether or not Nathan Baker is even alive at this point. Ciaran Clark has taken a huge step forward this season, Matthew Lowton has quietly been one of Villa's most consistent performers and Enda Stevens has performed very well since being called into action unexpectedly against Sunderland, but to say there are some concerns in defense would be an understatement.
- Both teams are coming into this game on relatively short rest and Reading had something of a barn-burner against Wigan on Saturday, but Villa looked absolutely gassed towards the end of the game against Arsenal and Paul Lambert doesn't have a ton of options if he wants to rotate the squad for this game. Stephen Ireland and Brett Holman seem like decent bets to move back into the starting lineup, but unless Darren Bent and Charles N'Zogbia make surprise returns to the team, it's going to be another long shift for Villa's front four.