It's too easy to write that you shouldn't be conceding five goals in any game and it doesn't need me to bring it up. And you don't need me to tell you that against 10 men you don't sit back, you attack. But what an edge of he seat game. It had almost everything.

So I'll move on. But is it too far gone to dip into the muppets from last weekend? Probably. So we look at Middlesbrough later today and this is a test. Away from Villa Park and at a side within touching distance of first place. But to put things into context, if we beat them today, we're four points behind them.

That's why it's a test but in truth it is also one we should be passing. If we can't pass these tests then we don't deserve to be where we need to be. And that isn't just because we are Aston Villa, it's the squad we have. We have internationals that don't make the starting eleven and a starting eleven full of internationals.

And we do have some momentum at the moment. The players know they can score when attacking. We just need to make sure that the teams we play aren't scoring against us every time they're going forward. I'm sure it will be fixed today.

A rumour from this week

So, I'll be back for the match, but I just wanted to mention a rumour from this week that has stuck with me and it's that Gary Cahill might be coming home. Okay, it's pure speculation, but wouldn't it be nice? Having competition in the back four is always good and at the moment the middle two are picking themselves and it does appear as if something is missing.

January is coming very soon and I think it's fair to say going forward we're in a good place. It's the defence we need to fix. One or two only please.

Match facts from the BBC

  • Middlesbrough and Aston Villa have not met since last season's Championship play-off semi-final - Villa won 1-0 on aggregate thanks to an away win at the Riverside Stadium.
  • Aston Villa and Middlesbrough met five times in all competitions last season - Villa kept four clean sheets in those games (W2 D2 L1).
  • In all competitions, Tony Pulis has collected just one win in his last seven matches against Aston Villa (D2 L4).
  • Dean Smith has never beaten Middlesbrough as a manager in four meetings in all competitions (D2 L2) - he's faced a different manager each time (Tony Mowbray, Aitor Karanka, Garry Monk, Pulis).
  • Jonny Howson's four assists have earned Middlesbrough seven points in the Championship this season - only West Bromwich Albion's Matt Phillips (eight points from five assists) has earned his side more.
  • Aston Villa have recovered 14 points from trailing positions in this season's Championship, the most in the division.

Interview