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Aston Villa's hopes of making it through to the play-offs at the end of the season were dealt a blow when they picked up just three points in their opening five Championship matches of December. Not a fatal blow perhaps but one which meant that would need to work a little harder in order to climb back into the top-six in the league table. Nevertheless that is exactly what they have done and following that unimpressive run, the Villans have responded by winning their last three Championship games with seven goals scored and none conceded. They were dumped out of the FA Cup by lower-league Peterborough United earlier this month, however that competition will almost certainly have been viewed as pretty low priority by manager Steve Bruce with promotion to the Premier League his key objective.
The West Midlands side now sit comfortably in fourth place in the Championship table and one would certainly expect them to further cement this position when they lock horns with struggling Barnsley at Villa Park on Saturday afternoon.
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The Tykes sit just three points above the bottom three in the Championship table as things stand while they have managed a couple of decent results of late - namely a 1-0 win at fellow strugglers Sunderland and a goal-less draw at table-topping Wolverhampton Wanderers - they remain very much in the danger zone and their poor form on their travels suggests that three points won't be heading back to Oakwell on Saturday afternoon.
This is a great chance for Aston Villa to keep in touch with the automatic promotion places and we expect the hosts to grab this opportunity with both hands by keeping the Tykes at bay.
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