Well, that whole Stoke malarkey didn't go to plan whatsoever. Time for a new plan and give ourselves a fighting chance of that illusive away victory. Today it's Aston Villa in what should be an intriguing encounter.
This fixture has been fairly pleasant for us recently. No goals conceded in our last two appearances at Villa Park with the latest match a drab 0-0 draw in April last year. For whatever reason, we didn't play Villa away last season, not sure why to be honest.
It's pretty certain that Villa will gladly hand us possession of the football today, making defensive concentration ever more important given their potential on the break. Hopefully, Gus won't set us out with too high a back line and give our back four a fighting chance against the pace in Villa's attack. Poyet hasn't adopted too high a defensive line in any of our matches so far, so I suspect he will heed to that logical tactic.
At home Villa have been frustrated this season. Given they are playing the basement club, no doubt the home fans will be demanding a commanding performance. If we frustrate early, exploit any nerves (like teams did to us most of last season at the Stadium of Light) we have a canny chance of getting something out of this game. Providing nobody gets sent off, of course.
Likely line up:
Thankfully justice was reeled back in slightly this week as Wes Brown saw his red card rescinded. We aren't going to win football matches by trying to outscore the opposition in five or six or seven goal thrillers. I'd even go as far as saying every point we win will have our defence to thank in the main. Whether it will be enough points remains to be seen, but this is a perfect chance to start. Brown is head and shoulders above our other defenders, hence his imperativeness to our survival.
Lee Cattermole could return to the starting line-up, and I would expect him to do so given Poyet's vocal admiration if him since his arrival. Who he would replace is an interesting one. Preferably, Seb Larsson should make way given he brings nothing but impressive ground-covered stats to our midfield in most games.
Emanuele Giacherrini shouldn't find himself dropped after being dubbed a potential Gianfranco Zola for us no less by Poyet;
Mannone; Celuskta, Bardsley, O'Shea, Brown; Ki, Cattermole, Colback, Johnson, Giaccherini; Fletcher
There is no doubt that we will concede chances, so the result may well depend heavily on how hot Villa's shooting is. I think we will need a clean sheet to win this one as I am struggling to imagine us scoring more than one goal. Perhaps naively, I am still caught up in this whole optimistic point of view that I don't think we'll concede more than one either. I'm plumping for a score draw and very welcome away point - 1-1.