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Early Advantage to Villa in the Relegation Battle

After picking up one point and failing to score in the last three games against West Ham, Cardiff and Newcastle, when most fans would have expected four to seven points, Aston Villa are officially in a relegation battle for the fourth season running. Now, this is normally the time we start to analyse all the potential relegation rivals run-ins and get on the BBC League Predictor (if we could find it!), well, there’s no doubt we’ll get round to that at later date, if Villa continue to under perform and the field thins out a bit, but we’ve noticed a few factors that shouldn’t make this necessary… Here’s some food for thought for the early stages of the relegation picture:

Mackem Safety Belt

The distance to the relegation zone is always judged by distance from the 18th team. At the moment, it is four points, Villa have a two game result cushion from Sunderland. And it’ll remain a minimum of four points until March 15th, as Sunderland with their commitments in both cups, don’t have a league game until then. Then with three games in hand, Sunderland will suddenly face the problem of fixture congestion. If they progress in the FA Cup, this problem will only intensify, just ask Wigan about that. A bit like a cricket innings, Villa will have a couple of home games to get the points to set Sunderland a sizable target to chase. I’ll say it now, if Sunderland finish with more points than Villa this season, it probably mean that Villa will be playing Championship football next term.

Vincent Tan’s Miracle

I can’t see Cardiff surviving. They’ve got to be favourites for the drop. Hull’s 4-0 win away win over Cardiff sums it all up (and puts into perceptive what a poor result Villa had on their visit to Wales). On March 8th, Cardiff host Fulham, basically if either team wants to survive, they probably have to win that game. The loser can kiss the division goodbye.

Is Felix Magath Mad?

Well, he looks it! Magath has set his team a target of six wins to survive. That’s doable with the players they have, but will it be enough? They’ll need a few draws thrown in the mix, as they’d only be on 39 points with those six wins. For starters, they’d have to beat Cardiff in the aforementioned showdown clash in a couple of weeks time. On April 5th, Fulham visit Villa Park, and Lambert’s team will pretty much be presented with the opportunity to send Fulham packing to the relegation exit. Has anybody else noticed the irony that Darren Bent now has a chance to help relegate Villa, after his goals saved us from relegation under Houllier?

Lambert’s Villa Park Trio Trial

The postponement of the March trip to Manchester City is a big blessing for Villa. Norwich (h), Man City (a), Chelsea (h) – is just plain nasty.  But Norwich (h), Chelsea (h) and Stoke (h) looks much better. Yes, yes, Villa’s home form is sh**e, but this gives Paul Lambert a three-game Villa Park run to finally sort it out. A ‘Villa Park Triple Trial’, if you will. The Villa boss has a chance to win his critics back by impressing against Chelsea (Mourinho’s record at Villa Park is not too great, not a single win!), and knock out two potential relegation rivals. Villa Park, after tormenting fans for so long, could finally save the day and Villa’s season. Would we be foolish to dream of three home wins? Probably, but lets go for it. Now is the time for Lambert to make up for what’s gone on before at Villa Park. At the very least, he should be bullish and  maybe even publicly declare an aim is to now remain unbeaten at Villa Park to the end of the season. Fire up the players and supporters. One inspired performance against Chelsea and the rest is very, very do-able. These next three consecutive homes games can go a long way to helping Villa supporters to start thinking about their summer holidays, rather than wasting thoughts on any relegation nonsense. UTV

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6 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t think we will go down but maybe this is just wishful thinking/C&B specs. But Lambert needs to get his selection and tactics rights. I would start with a central 3 of Westy, Delph and Bacuna (with Lowton at LB) as I don’t believe KEA and Westy should play in the same team and much prefer the latter. Up front I would play Gabby (in a roving role but playing off Tekkers) and Tekkers with Andi at the tip of a midfield diamond as he was for the Liverpool away game. I would save Marc for the last 30 minutes – as he did against West Ham, pushing Gabby out left with Andi off Tekkers. I would keep Grant Holt as far away from the pitch as possible unless Tekkers gets an injury. Lets go at them with high tempo and energy which Delph and Bacuna bring as does Andi from a no. 10 position. Please get it right this time Mr Lambert …. its been a while!!

  2. Need to change up the attack. Cannot play Gabby Andi and Marc so someone needs to work out the best combination of any two at any time – because Albrighton deserves to play and also brings something different to the very tired 4-3-3 tactics. For Sunday, he has to bring Lowton back in so that Bacuna can play in a four-man midfield with CB20 plus one up front. Holt to come on and score the winner in extra time.

  3. The Norwich game is massive. Lose that and the trapdoor opens. Lambert is certainly not improving the team compared to this time last season, preferring his own signings to people on the books, Albrighton and especially Herd being very badly done by. Bennett has taken too much stick for Sunday, Luna was not even on the bench when Bertrand (a good signing) had to come off.

    But the real problem was bringing on Sylla instead of Albrighton for Westwood. He had clearly decided to go for a 0-0 draw rather than trying to win the game.

    I coiuld go on. Very poor tactical decisions all over. But esp in not having a holding player in front of the defence so the ball goes into the penalty box all the time. I don’t have much confidence that Norwich with their tails up will not exploit this to score and then we have to respond.

    If Villa can’t respond, the trap door really will open. Lambert has to show qualities of inspiration and organization even better than last year. A new contract? Dream on.

    trevor fisher

  4. Can’t see more than 11pts from remaining games so it will all be down to which three teams are worse! Personally I think we are going down & this first time I have felt like that. Lambert is clueless both in team selection and tactics during games. I think we will go down with Cardiff & Fulham.

    • Far too early to call. The current feeling isn’t great, but lets see what happens in these upcoming three home games.

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