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Brentford play Aston Villa for the first time in over 60 years. Billy Grant catches up with Jonathan Northall (@JNorthall) from Aston Villa Blog (@VDTLavfc) to get the lowdown on how Villa are bedding down in the lower leagues. Plus we chat on the Pride Of West London podcast to Heart of the Holt blog.

How are you finding The Championship? Tougher than you thought?The Championship wasn’t going to be easy. It is a tough division on its own without also having last season’s legacy weighing the club down. It is still fairly early days but I expect the contenders to be rising to the top by the end of September. Hopefully, Villa will be one of those teams.

You had a shed load of chances against Forest but came away with only a point. Does that worry you?

Not worried. At all. Honest…..it is more frustrating than worrying right now.  Villa fans are used to the team making hard work of things so Forest’s equaliser was almost expected. Profligacy in front of goal as well as an inspired Stojkovic conspired to create a frustrating afternoon in front of goal. Kodjia, McCormack, Ayew could all have had 2 or 3 goals each. Goals will come for sure.

Your turnover is £115m compared to our £10m. You’ve spent loads of cash on players. Like £50m. Do you really think that’s the way forward in this division?
Money is no guarantee of success but you’d think there is a positive correlation between the two. Villa spent loads of cash last season and look what happened. However, Roberto Di Matteo and Dr Tony seem to be buying players who are more likely to succeed.

Scott Hogan scored 7 goals in less than 180 minutes of football last season in his comeback from injury – being out for nearly 2 years. He cost £750k from Rochdale and has started less than a dozen Championship matches. How do you think your defenders will cope with him?

Like every other area of the team, the defenders are still learning to play together. Chester and Elphick are starting to gel as a defensive two in the middle.  Ritchie De Laet is an improvement on Alan Hutton but that’s not really a measure of success. Once Jordan Amavi comes back into the side, we will see an improvement at the back. As to defending Hogan? Either we will or we won’t.

Last season, Villa fans felt there was an attitude problem with the players. Do you think Di Matteo has sorted this out now?
The deadwood is almost gone from the club now. Players seem to want to pull on the shirt again. It’s the one thing that fans can actually demand of players.

In our pre-season preview, . Do you think that was a trifle unfair?
24th? That’s just a Villa fan being a Villa fan. When we are in the ascendancy, the halycon days of 1982 (European Cup win) are recalled. When we are down, the fans are first to voice their displeasure. David O’Leary said we are fickle. He has a point. He also didn’t care about the club and fans knew it.

Brentford play Villa for the first time since 1953. The Bees have never beaten Villa. But with the Bees in 8th and Villa in 17th, do you think an upset may be on the cards?
It’s Aston Villa. There is ALWAYS an upset on the cards. If the team gels on Wednesday night, we could easily put five past you. We could also not turn up and you take another three points from an away game. (Or Brentford could get their tactics spot on and nullify you, hitting you on the break – maybe?? – Ed)

Score prediction
3-1 home win. Kodjia brace and Ayew.



Pre-match Pubs for Bees Fans

Bees fans not coming by coach will most probably come into New Street or Snow Hill station. If drinking near the station, you can get a No 11 bus to the ground.

Pubs near New Street station

The Wellington
Bennetts Hill
18 beers on tap. You can even bring your own food

Old Joint Stock
Temple Row
A Fullers pub in a converted bank. Normally quite busy

Old Contemptibles
Edmund Street (near Snow Street Station)
An olde skool watering hole in the middle of the city. Nicholsons owned

Briar Rose
Bennetts Hill
Reasonable priced beer in here

The Victoria
John Bright Street
Just down from Turtle Bay – where the Beesotted crew were seen supping happy hour cocktails after losing to Birmingham city recently. A kooky pub but decent

Pubs near to Villa Park

Witton Arms
Witton Road
Close to ground and away friendly.

Cap and Gown
Witton Road
Apparently they accommodate away fans here – albeit in a different room from the home fans

The Harriers
Also accommodated away fans – giving them their own bar

Ruskin Hall
Victoria Road
Set up for both home and away fans. 15 mins or so from ground

Bartons Arms
High St, Aston
A grand victorian pub with a garden – 15 mins walk from ground. Plenty of ales on offer