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Big Match Preview: Aston Villa home

City return to Sky Bet Championship action as they host Aston Villa at Ashton Gate tonight (7.45pm).

After three league games without a win, a much-changed City side toppled Premier League Watford at Vicarage Road in midweek.

Here's a look at this evening's opponents.

FACTFILE

Formed: 1874
Nickname: The Villans
Website: www.avfc.co.uk
Twitter: @AVFCOfficial
Ground: Villa Park
Capacity: 42,682

Honours
Football League First Division 1893/94, 1895/96, 1896/97, 1898/99, 1899/1900, 1909/10, 1980/81
Football League Second Division 1937/38, 1959/60
Football League Third Division 1971/72
FA Cup 1886/87, 1894/95, 1896/97, 1904/05, 1912/13, 1919/20, 1956/57
League Cup 1960/61, 1974/75, 1976/77, 1993/94, 1995/96
FA Charity Shield 1981
European Cup 1981/82
European Super Cup 1982

Last season
League finish: 13th in the Championship
FA Cup: Third round, lost to Tottenham Hotspur
EFL Cup: First round, lost to Luton Town
Top scorer: Jonathan Kodjia, 19 goals
Average attendance: 30,199

HOW DID THEY GET HERE?

Expectation is high at Villa Park that Steve Bruce’s men can secure a return to the Premier League at the second time of asking.

Serial promotion winner Bruce arrived two months into last season with a rebuilding job on his hands, but, having steadied the ship, his team now have loftier ambitions in their sights.

Villa have added no shortage of experience this summer, with ex-Premier League campaigners Glenn Whelan, Ahmed Elmohamady and Christopher Samba joining the headline-grabbing arrival of John Terry.

With established Championship stars Conor Hourihane, Henri Lansbury and Scott Hogan all recruited in January, it is a squad brimming with talent.

Having started slowly with one point from their first three games, four-goal wins in league and cup suggest an ominous momentum is building at Villa Park.

Steve Bruce has won promotion to the Premier League on four occasions

MEET THE GAFFER: STEVE BRUCE

The only manager to boast four promotions from the Sky Bet Championship, Bruce was appointed with the hope of making it five sooner rather than later.

Twice he achieved the feat on two separate occasions with two different clubs, Birmingham City and Hull City.

His links to the blue half of the Second City were quickly forgotten as Villa fans soon warmed to Bruce, but the recent defeat at Reading led to boos from the away end with their much-fancied team languishing on one point from their first three matches.

Since then, Villa have responded with eight goals in two games to underline their credentials as promotion contenders. History would suggest they have the right man in place to bring that promise to fruition.

Conor Hourihane became the first Villa midfielder to score a hat-trick since 1991

STAR MAN: CONOR HOURIHANE

Lee Johnson’s captain in their time together at Barnsley, the City boss will not be surprised to see his former skipper flourishing in claret and blue.

Previously on the books of Sunderland and Ipswich Town, Hourihane established himself as a goalscoring midfielder at Plymouth Argyle in League Two.

His reputation grew further at Barnsley, where he became the leader of a young team that achieved a Wembley double in 2015/16, tasting victory in the finals of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and League One play-offs.

Having completed his rise through the EFL, Hourihane became a standout performer in the Championship and inevitably attracted interest from bigger clubs.

Enter Villa, who witnessed the Irishman’s first career hat-trick against Norwich City last weekend.

David Rodgers scored the only goal as City defeated Aston Villa in the top flight

MEMORABLE MEETING: 1978/79

BRISTOL CITY 1-0 ASTON VILLA
Rodgers 66

City continue their encouraging start to their third year back in the First Division as David Rodgers’ second-half header secures victory at Ashton Gate.

A developing Villa team, European Cup winners three seasons later, are overrun by a City side playing with more fluency than in previous years.

Manager Alan Dicks hands a debut to teenage winger Howard Pritchard, who provides the cross for Rodgers to head home City’s winner in the 66th minute.

It would prove a successful year for Dicks’ side, who defeat both Manchester United and Liverpool en route to finishing 13th in the top flight. It remains City’s highest league position for more than a century.

Bristol City: Shaw, Gillies, Rodgers, Hunter, Whitehead, Pritchard, Sweeney, Tainton, Mann, Ritchie, Royle.

Aston Villa: Rimmer, Gidman, McNaught, Mortimer, Smith, Shelton (Shaw), Evans, Little, Carrodus, Cowans, Gregory.

Attendance: 23,881.

AND FINALLY...

Officials
Referee: Geoff Eltringham
Assistant Referees: Nick Greenhalgh and Akil Howson
Fourth Official: Stephen Martin

Betting (via Sky Bet)
City 7/5
Draw 23/10
Villa 19/10