When you look at the Premier League table, the first thought that springs to mind is ‘we’re not out of the woods yet’. Those three points at White Hart Lane certainly took the edge off the relegation race for Villa and made that late point gained at Villa Park against QPR feel like two. But the revival of Leicester has complicated matters a little.
Before back-to-back wins against Spurs and Liverpool, with confidence rock bottom it was hard to pinpoint where we’d get the wins needed to drag us over the line, but now with confidence reborn, as they showed in their performance against Manchester City, Villans should expect to pick up a point or three from most of the remaining games.
We have a lot to thank the FA Cup for the team’s newly found belief and inspiration, without it, there’s a good chance we’d be currently rooted in the bottom three.
If there’s one phrase that has bugged me in the run up to both the FA Cup quarter and semi-finals fans wanting to sacrifice a run in the FA Cup for Premier League survival. The important thing to remember is it’s not a choice of one or the other though. Aim for both.
Even Tim Sherwood prior to the trip to Manchester uttered the notion we “must avoid Wigan repeat”, but it’s not going to happen as Villa are in a completely different situation, and here’s way…
1. FA Cup Final Date
Wigan played their 2013 FA Cup final against Manchester City on May 11 with two Premier League games still to go. Having a final date so early and before the season’s end was a ridiculous situation for Wigan and poor form by the FA. The FA Cup final should always be the curtain closer for the season. In the end, the psychology of the Wigan players was completely messed up in terms of concentrating on either the league or cup. Which makes their FA Cup winning achievement even more remarkable . With champagne in their belly (ala Birmingham City after they won the League Cup in 2011) though, they found it difficult to get themselves up for the remaining league games, although it was perhaps too late by then.
2. Better Squad
Wigan had crippling injuries playing games in their run-in with four to six key first-teamers injured. While Villa have had their share of injuries, they don’t have any real star men out (*touch wood*), and have one or two players returning for the end of the season like Libor Kozak and Alan Hutton.
3. Fixture Backlog
The FA Cup hasn’t put any extra stress on Villa’s fixture list. With no replays needed on the run to the final, it’s been a fairly effortless advance into the final. Wigan’s final few weeks of the season were insane with three games in a week on several occasions. At times there didn’t seem to be enough days in a week for them.
4. Don’t Blame the FA Cup
The FA Cup has nothing to do with Aston Villa only managing to win a pathetic three home games out of 16 this season. In fact, Villa have won more games at Villa Park in the FA Cup than the league.
5. Not Connected
Winning the FA Cup and getting relegated are not mutually inclusive. Most teams that win the FA Cup don’t get relegated!
6. Go Down in Glory
It is better to win the FA Cup and get relegated, then to just get relegated.
Villa fans who aren’t bothered about the cup need to question their ambition for the club. We’re not going to win the league any time soon, so is Villa’s existence simply a matter of survival?
Not on our watch. Villa should be in the shout for cups and European qualification. They should be playing at Wembley more frequently than they have been doing. All this used to happen before recent seasons threatened to deaden our dreams.
If we beat Arsenal in the FA Cup final, we’ll have another Wembley date in the Charity Shield in August, plus European football to look forward to. In many ways the FA Cup could potentially fast-track the club out of the doldrums.
Being in the big games builds the supporter base. It’s what a lot of kids watch and originally get hooked on. It’s especially true of overseas markets. Yes, some supporters will consider these fans as ‘plastic fans’ who may never visit Villa Park, but it’s the same at every club and we must compete in this market as well.
So in conclusion, lets win the FA Cup! Until then, lets see a vibrant Villa climb up the league rather than get tangled up in relegation battle issues. UTV
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