By Ben Cripps
The Villa Fiver- Games 16-20
So, the season continues to progress (sort of), and Paul Lambert remains in charge, despite the ever growing displeasure amongst the Villa faithful.
The developing negativity amongst supporters is undoubtedly justified, however the most optimistic amongst us will point to the vastly improved defensive record that has formed this season, so much so that a clean sheet doesn’t seem so much of a surprise anymore. Unfortunately though, clean sheets don’t win you games, goals do, and this has been the major factor in Villa’s disappointing results so far this season.
Prior to the game at the Hawthorns, the results had been unconvincing and uninspiring. We came into this on the back of a narrow victory over rock-bottom Leicester, a smash and grab win at Palace, and a characteristically dull draw at Turf Moor.
The game at West Brom ended up in defeat, goalscorer none other than Judas himself, aka Craig Gardner. He wasn’t shy in his celebrations either. We then faced United, a game we always seem to lose, and lose convincingly. Not since 2009 at Old Trafford had we beaten them (at home, it stretches back almost two decades). Alas, we took the lead, but were held to a very respectable draw following Gabby’s first ever red, which was unsurprisingly rescinded in the following days. A good result, you’d have to say against an ever-developing force under LVG.
The following few games against Swansea, Sunderland and Palace resulted in 2 points, 0 goals scored, and one conceded (at the Liberty) which typically resulted in many disgruntled Villans and also the regaining of our rightful position of last on MOTD.
Last Five Aston Villa Results
(Last season’s results in brackets)
West Brom (a) L 0-1 (2-2)
Man United (h) D 1-1 (0-3)
Swansea (a) L 0-1 (1-4)
Sunderland (h) D 0-0 (0-0)
Crystal Palace (h) D 0-0 (0-1)
Points difference compared to the same fixtures last season: +1
Points: 3 (2)
Goals scored: 1 (3)
Goals conceded: 3 (10)
After picking up a similar amount of points, albeit being a point up, the main improvement was shipping seven less goals, thus highlighting the improvement in Villa’s rearguard this season.
After 20 Games – compared to corresponding results
Points difference compared to same fixtures last season: +7
Points: 22 (15)
Goals scored: 11 (20)
Goals conceded: 22 (31)
Goal difference compared to fixtures last season – 0
Well, +7 points on last year’s results seems an improvement at first hand. We have to remember though, it’s not too hard to improve on results that led to a 38 point season finish. Ultimately, at the end of the season, you’d be looking for a minimum improvement of at least 10-12 points, before we could even mention the word ‘progress’.
This Time, Last Season
In terms of a straight-up comparison to where Villa were this stage of last season, the team is in a pretty similar predicament:
(Last season in brackets and difference at end)
Points: 22 (23) -1
League position: 12th (11th) -1
Goals scored: 11 (19) -8
Goals conceded: 22 (24) +2
Goal difference: -11 (-5) -6
It was at this point last season certain sections of fans and the Villa CEO of the time Paul Faulkner were talking about contentment and progress. The second half of the season, soon put a pin prick in that.
Certainly there’s no sign of improvement in terms of league table position. The standout figure has to be the goals scored – 11 goals in 20 games is unforgivable, Villa remain the lowest goalscorers in the top 4 divisions of English football, which is embarrassing to say the least.
A repeat tally of 11 goals in the second half of the season, would pretty much guarantee Villa’s relegation, unless the defence played out of their skins and rattled a few more 0-0 draws and 1-0 wins.
While Villa are 7 points up on respective fixtures of last season, but the next five games may level things up.
The Road Ahead
The upcoming 5 league fixtures are the following:
Leicester (a) (Norwich W 1-0)
Liverpool (h) (L 0-1)
Arsenal (a) (W 3-1)
Chelsea (h) (W 1-0)
Hull (a) ( D 0-0)
Looking at these fixtures, while Villa amassed 10 points from the five fixtures last season, could they really again win two out of three from Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea?
As we all know, Villa can be very unpredictable against the big teams, so who knows what kind of performances we will put in.
Mourinho still hasn’t won at Villa Park, so to maintain that record would be nice, as would completing the double over Liverpool this season.
Overall though, you would probably be happy with a minimum of 7 points out of a possible 15, but we shall have to wait and see what unfolds. UTV
Follow Ben Cripps on Twitter – @ben_teke20
Follow MOMS on Twitter – @oldmansaid