Would You Bet Against Us?
By Robert Smith
Having finally reached the Championship’s automatic promotion places after being over a season and a half in the division, it’s hard now not to feel optimistic about a return to the Premier League.
It’s not going to be easy though. After a seven-game winning run, Villa reached second spot, but after a loss against Fulham we soon slipped to third. The following draw against Preston meant Villa were suddenly four points adrift of second place. It’s an indication of how quickly circumstances can change and of the drama to come.
One things for sure the odds on Villa getting promoted in 2018 on football betting sites have certainly come down from 2017 prices. The bookies are no fools and know Villa have the squad of players to do the job, it’s just a matter now for the Villa management team to execute it.
Over the last five years, the average points total of teams finishing second in the Championship is 89, so its worth taking an objective (well sort of) look and seeing how things might pan out for us if we are to achieve the holy grail in May…..
The predictions will provide a guideline to the kind of form we need to replicate to get the automatic promotion job done.
*These are not necessarily the predictions of MOMS, as they assume Villa will now go unbeaten to the end of the season.
Sheffield Wednesday (away) – DRAW
We usually take thousands to Hillsborough and this should be no different, especially after the club has subsidised Sheffield Wednesday’s scandalous prices. The Owls are very much a Jekyll and Hyde team at home. Capable of taking points off Derby and Cardiff, yet shipping three and losing against both Burton and Birmingham City.
Villa also have struggled against them while in the Championship, losing two out of the three encounters so far.
Villa will certainly need the likes of Jack Grealish and Albert Adomah back and be close to full-strength or we might not get the win.
Sunderland (away) – WIN
These are the sort of games we have to win if we are to finish second. A midweek trip up north against a team that’s likely to be fighting for their lives will not be an easy ride. Even so, Sunderland are less than great in front of goal and Hogan and Grealish should have far too much for their shaky defence too. Hopefully our biggest problem will be making ourselves heard in the vast empty expanse of the Stadium of Light.
Wolves (home) – DRAW
I really, really wanted to predict a win here, but I think this lot might just have enough to get a draw against us, even in front what is likely to be a massive crowd at Villa Park.
We could do with some unseasonal March snowfall here to shake them up a bit, and if our midfield can show the commitment that most Championship teams do when they play us, we might just win it, but my head says not quite.
QPR (home) – WIN
Rangers have not set the world on fire this season (only two away wins), but by March might be looking nervously over there shoulders at the drop zone, and like so many teams down there will play like they’re high on Lucozade. Once again, if we match the commitment they show we should win this one.
Bolton (away) – WIN
Bolton are having a tough first season back at Championship level, and we should have beaten them far, far more easily at Villa Park earlier this season. They do have a very physical side to their game, and we can’t allow them to knock us off our stride like they did at our place.
At the time of writing, Bolton are currently five games unbeaten at home, but surely we have too much going forward for their rearguard to hold out against.
Hull (away) – WIN
Another club finding it very tough this season and Hull will be battling relegation by now unless they have a good run sometime soon. While they have at the time of writing also gone five games unbeaten at home, the last four have all been draws. We will take a lot of fans to this one and should pretty much take over the KFC stadium (or whatever its called), which will turn the game in our favour whatever Hull do.
Reading (home) – WIN
I expected them to be in the mix this season, but instead they’ve had a pretty awful time of it and are just above the relegation strugglers at present (blame Bacuna!). They will have rallied a bit by the time we play and that will suit us as they’ll have nothing to play for. They won at the Villa last season (1-3), but hopefully that won’t happen again.
Norwich (away) – DRAW
Tough one to call this, Norwich have looked pretty average this season but Carrow Road can be an awkward place to go and we might be feeling a bit leggy after the Easter fixtures. Our best chance is if they are stuck in mid-table and can’t be bothered, but we haven’t experienced too many games like that in this league and I don’t think that’s going to change here.
Cardiff (home) – WIN
The first of two home games in April against automatic promotion rivals. Cardiff will throw everything into this one and as such it will be a very tight encounter. I know I’ve said this before, but we really do have to match their commitment level here, otherwise we could get turned over. We managed it last season and the fact its a huge game for both teams (not just a big day out for the visitors) should see us shade it in front of a deafening Holte End.
This game will certainly be key to Villa’s automatic promotion chances and in fairness could go any which way, but lets be in it, to win it.
Leeds (home) – WIN
This should be a full house or very close against the club who think they’re as big as us (snigger). We might be a bit jaded or have some knocks from the Cardiff game but there can be no excuses in this league, the finishing line is in sight and the Holte (and lower north) will suck the ball into the net for a narrow win (fingers crossed and eyes closed).
Ipswich (away) – DRAW
This could be a problem fixture, after two tough promotion fixtures a game against Mick McCarthy’s finest is not ideal. Despite off field problems, they are doing ok and will relish the chance to knock us off our perch (lets hope we are on one). I predict they will go ahead but a late equaliser from Hogan and fixtures’ elsewhere going our way mean we stay second going into the last two games (fingers crossed, etc…).
Derby (home) – WIN
Bloody hell. This could be the six pointer to end six pointers. Just imagine if we are one point above this crowd before the game starts. Picture the scene, 40,000 nerves jangling like Brucie’s pockets on the way to the kebab shop, and both teams going at it hell for leather for a place in the Premier League. Win or not, its moments like this that we talk about forever. A Jack Grealish special ten minutes from time to send us back up where we belong. Bedlam in the Holte, people on the pitch (not encouraging it, just saying its likely).
Millwall (away) – DRAW
A pretty crap last fixture. Hopefully we wont need anything from this venue of angels because I think a win might be just beyond us here. We all know they’ll try anything to stop us from getting what we need because that’s what they’re like (fair play actually, who can blame them).
Of course, in reality this will be one big party in the away end before we are escorted away in specially built claret and blue armoured vehicles (ex-Chinese military, thanks to Dr Tony) to a pub on the outskirts of London for a proper promotion bash!
FINAL POINTS TOTAL – 89
So that’s it then. 89 points should do the job, but we’d have to go on one pretty decent unbeaten run, if other results don’t go our way. Don’t expect a walk in the park or Villa to run away with it. It’s going to be a close run thing.
One things for sure, if Villa stay in the chase and injury-free, it’s going to be an emotional rollercoaster between now and the season’s end.
With key players that offer a cutting edge, coming back in the near future (Grealish, Adomah and Snodgrass), would you bet against us?