Just when we thought we’d lost that winning feeling for good, Christian Benteke’s coolly taken 93rd minute penalty was met with so much relief it felt like we’d gained 15 points never mind three. It gives the club a potential turning point in the league and also gives them added confidence to repeat the trick and knock West Brom out to reach Wembley. Until that rematch in the FA Cup, here’s five reasons to be careful as Aston Villa fans.
1. First Blood
In the double-header West Brom some Villans were debating which game they’d prefer to win the most – the league or cup game? What a pointless conversation. The aim, as MOMS has always maintained should be to win both. The three points are in the bag, so now lets get that trip to Wembley that Villa supporters so richly deserve after several seasons of misery and suffering.
2. Strikers doing their thing
Fans calling for Gabby to be dropped from the first team for the rest of season had grown louder in recent weeks. His goal tally alone suggests the fans weren’t wrong. But Tim Sherwood showed he is his own man and not only was Gabby in the starting line-up, but he even had the gall to stick Charles N’Zogbia in there too.
Gabby’s opener was a first-rate example of what he can bring to the front-line, if he’s up for it. OK, if he was a more clinical finisher, he could have ended the game with at least a brace, but his attitude was spot on during the game and hopefully there will be more to come from him this season.
Christian Benteke also broke his duck of not scoring before the amount of games got into double figures. Benteke was cool as you like with the penalty, despite the massive pressure. It should certainly help his confidence in the remaining 10 league games and Villa’s quest to lift the FA Cup. If we get to the final and then Benteke really puts in a performance, Villa could beat anybody.
Tim Sherwood’s Villa win ratio is up from 0% to 33.33%. A lot has been made about Sherwood’s 59% win ratio at Spurs. Well, if the Villa boss wins his next two games, WBA (h) and Sunderland (a), his win ratio will rise to 60%, topping his Spurs record. Of course, it’s only five games. John Gregory’s win ratio after his first 11 games in charge was 82%, such giddy heights are impossible to maintain, but if Sherwood’s is around 50% at the end of the season, Villa should be safe and probably would have made at least one trip to Wembley.
4. Thank god for injury time
In Villa’s previous home game, they conceded a penalty against Stoke City thanks to a moment of madness by Ron Vlaar in injury-time that cost Villa the game. The WBA game was payback time and credit to the players for not giving in and getting the penalty at pretty much the same moment as Stoke did. We could have had two points from the Stoke and WBA games if the games ended on 90 minutes. Thanks to injury-time, instead we have three points, the end of both the seven-match losing streak and the depressing 12-game winless run.
With Lambert shipped off the home atmosphere at the Leicester City FA Cup game had a positivity in the air that we hadn’t experienced for a while at Villa Park, yet it was nothing compared to the amped up atmosphere that 31,000+ fans produced at the West Brom game. A decent showing in the first half of the derby certainly set the tone and the late winner provided vivid scenes of celebration at the end. Now imagine that with almost 10,000 more fans!
Remember though, 3500 of those extra fans will be Baggies, so it’s time for Villa fans to crank up the atmosphere even more. Bring flags, banners, streamers, scarves, inflatables and balloons (the club is also providing some for fans), lets put on a real show in what will be the biggest game in the Midlands for the last couple of seasons.
Hopefully it will be a real occasion to remember and the second-part of a much-needed derby double win. UTV
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