James Chester reckons Aston Villa now a different beast to the team brushed aside by Wolves five months ago
James Chester has warned Wolves they are about to face a very different Villa to the team humbled at Molineux earlier this season.
Tomorrow night’s return at Villa Park represents both another vital fixture on the run-in and a chance for the hosts to banish a few demons from one of their most chastening experiences of the campaign.
Perhaps only Cardiff can claim to have outplayed Villa this term in the manner Wolves did back in October.
The result – and in many respects the performance – was symptomatic of a first half of the season in which Villa remained among the front-runners without ever quite convincing enough to firm up a status as genuine promotion contenders.
Five months on, those credentials are no longer in any doubt. Villa have won nine out of 11 in the league and sit four points behind second-placed Cardiff.
The form of Jack Grealish, along with several other key men, has been key to helping boss Steve Bruce find a consistent formula for success. Better results have led to a better mood and an increased confidence in the dressing room.
“We’re a very different team now,” said Chester. “Earlier on in the season we were very up and down.
“We didn’t start the season well, we then went on the run and faded a little again.
“Since Christmas we have been bang on it and in good form. We have enough experience in the dressing room to grind out results and play in big games. Hopefully that will show on Saturday.
“It was a really difficult afternoon (at Molineux). I don’t think we got things right on the day with the shape they played and it was a long afternoon, they were worthy winners.
“But the form we are in at the moment, I am sure it won’t be the same on Saturday.”
There is no better player better placed to talk about the changing face of Villa than Chester. After all, he has witnessed almost the entirety of their Championship adventure first-hand, having played every single minute in the league since signing from Albion one game into last season.
Chester is Villa’s Mr Dependable in every sense.
“I think the biggest difference, compared to where we were last season, is the experience in the squad,” he said.
“Even when we don’t play very well, like on Tuesday night at Sunderland, we have enough mental strength to win games.
“The manner of the victory doesn’t matter, it is about getting three points.
“The game on Tuesday night, the one before at Sheffield Wednesday, they are the games you need to win to stay in the hunt.”
Both teams will be desperate for victory but Villa’s need is undoubtedly greater due to them playing catch-up.
Their deficit to Cardiff is far from decisive, but with the games counting down, they cannot afford to see it grow much larger.
Tomorrow’s game kicks-off another busy week which includes a rearranged home game with QPR and a trip to Bolton before the international break.
“Wolves have been the best team in the division all season,” added Chester. “Are we looking to prove a point? I’d say that’s probably right.
“But it is three points at the end of the day, whether it is Tuesday at Sunderland or on Saturday against Wolves, that is the most important thing.”