I was on the Sportsbar show last week, during the regular slot that My Old Man Said has to discuss Villa issues with Andy Goldstein and Jason Cundy, I got fielded the token gesture question – ‘Can Villa do a Leicester City?’
Fast-forward to Match of the Day after Villa’s 1-1 draw at St. James Park and the presenter Dan Walker asked his pundit guests, ‘Can Villa do a Leicester?’
Of course, the question was a reference to last season, when Leicester City were considered dead and buried at the bottom of the league. However, while it was a great escape, the Foxes didn’t actually perform the kind of Houdini act Villa will have to pull off this time around.
There have been better Premier League escapes from relegation, it’s just that the Foxes powered relentlessly through the second-half of the season, something akin to what John Gregory did for Villa when he took over from Brian Little in the second half of the 1997/98 season. Gregory recorded nine wins in the last 11 games.
At this stage last season, after 17 games, Leicester City were on 10 points on Christmas Day, but only five points adrift of the safety zone.
League Table Christmas 2014/15
The Foxes were not cut adrift at the foot of the table as Villa currently are. In comparison, this Christmas Day, Aston Villa will be double the points total that Leicester were away from safety.
After gaining 19 points from 29 games, Leicester managed to equal the same amount in a period of eight games that saw six wins, one draw with the only defeat coming against the champions Chelsea.
In the end, Leicester strolled over the safety line with games to spare, flying past Villa in the process.
The moral of the Leicester story is perhaps found in how they indeed finished higher than Villa that season, because at Christmas they were 10 points behind Villa, who were 12th (see table above), the same tally that Villa are cut adrift from safety this season.
It is possible for Villa to escape, despite the fact no team has ever done it on their current points tally. The big question remains, do Villa have the players, manager, board, confidence, money and belief to do it?
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