Aston Villa’s winning ways continue despite their uncertain performances. Relying on solid defending and Jonathan Kodjia to bag the goals at the other end, it may be a case of too little too late, in terms of promotion, but here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Villa fans…
While I don’t think that 31% of possession and forcing only two corners at Villa Park, during 90 minutes, will get us anywhere in terms of getting promoted (nor is it something I want to watch), winning is a good habit to have. Wins breed confidence, which normally lifts player performance levels, the question is though, will Bruce seek to play another way or will this be ‘the Villa way’.
Some fans evidently don’t care how Villa win, but to the more concerning, it is a worry. The phrase ‘winning ugly’ derives from good teams winning when they have an off game, meaning they normally beat teams by playing well. Perhaps only Wimbledon of the late 1980’s learnt how to win ugly all the time, and that’s not a route Villa really want to go down.
As I’ve said a few times on the MOMS podcast, while I have my issues in terms of Kodjia being a complete player, his finishing to really top draw.
Kodjia has netted 17 times this season (the same amount of league goals that Dwight Yorke managed twice for Villa) and the obvious next target is 20 league goals. The last Villa player to achieve that was Peter Withe, although he did it in the top tier when Villa won the league.
It’s hard to think of what would have happened to Villa’s season if Kodjia hadn’t rattled in his goals, which have made up 41% of Villa’s league goals this season. Villa have scored just 41 goals in 39 games, which is poor – only five teams have scored less.
After splashing the cash on three £12m+ strikers this season, Villa would have hoped that another one of those strikers would have chipped in a decent haul, like Gary Shaw did with 18 to go alongside Withe’s 20, back in the 1980/81 season.
This is a team game and it will take more than Kodjia to get Villa to where they want to be.
Villa have only conceded one goal in their last seven games, which suggests the backline and organisation is more than capable of dealing with Championship teams. How much this rearguard action takes away from our forward play is open to debate. However, the first rule of building a team is to sort out the backline first for a solid foundation.
Another shout out to Sam Johnstone who’s sixth clean sheet in seven has finally silenced his critics.
4. Miracle Bonus
For the dreamers out there that are still talking about a possible last ditch Villa assault on the play-off places, the good news is that Villa still have to play the team currently in sixth spot, Fulham.
While Villa are currently 10 points behind Fulham with only seven to play, a Villa win at Craven Cottage boils it down to seven points behind with six games to play.
With three games to go until that clash on Monday 17 April, Villa will need to potentially win all three of those games and hope that Fulham drop some points.
For example, if in the next three games Fulham win one, draw one and lose one, then if Villa win their next three, Steve Bruce’s team will go into the game just five points behind.
Meanwhile Sheffield Wednesday are beginning to choke a little having not won in their last four games.
It’s a long shot, but lets check in on the situation in a couple of weeks time.
5. April Madness
The sun is returning (as well as rainbows) and Villa will have another six games to come in the month, making it most jam-packed month of football this season. After what has been another difficult season, whatever happens here on in, at least we can hopefully enjoy the rest of the season in the sun in a relaxed manner. Next season promises to be a defining season in the immediate future of this club, so it is currently very much the calm before the storm.
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