Aston Villa reach the business end of the season in need of doing serious business
The last Good, Bad and Ugly optimistically called for a winning run from Villa’s relatively easy last four games. Admitting that that did not turn out quite as hoped, here’s a look at the Good, Bad and Ugly of Aston Villa’s last few weeks.
Villa’s third Premier League home win of the season, the 4-3 defeat of West Brom, was an excellent way to follow up a good draw at Anfield and it was nice to see the goals being shared around. However, it feels a long, long time ago already, and since then Leandro Bacuna’s well-taken finish at Goodison Park and the clean sheet at Cardiff have been the only things to shout about (alright, they’re definitely not worth shouting about) in terms of Villa’s football.
The return of Ron Vlaar instantly yielded a clean sheet in the Welsh capital, and the skipper staying fit is so, so crucial to the last three months of Villa’s season. Some have said he is beginning to become overrated by Villa fans – if this is true, it probably has something to do with the quality (or lack thereof) of the rest of the defensive line; the Dutchman’s experience and nous is desperately missed whenever he is absent.
Jack Grealish’s loan spell at Notts County has been a huge positive, and hopefully Gary Gardner and Jordan Bowery will find similar success with Sheffield Wednesday and Doncaster respectively. I, like most Villa fans, was desperate to see some of Gardner this season but he needs to play his way back in and could shine for Wednesday.
The loss to Everton was disappointing. Yes it was always going to be a tough game but one shot on target in a Premier League game is not good enough no matter who the opposition are. Still, 100% conversion rate. Villa’s failure to score against West Ham and Cardiff was simply dreadful and the club have slipped from nine points clear of relegation to merely four clear.
The Newcastle and Norwich games represent a real chance for Villa to pull themselves clear again, although we all know that will only be for the time being. Newcastle are in dire form, having failed to score in their last four games whilst conceding ten goals in the process, but Villa have a shocking record at Newcastle in recent seasons with three draws and four losses from their last seven games at St. James’ Park, and they haven’t won there since Bowyer-Dyer day in 2005. Given Newcastle’s form, Villa may not have had a better chance to end that run in a while.
The loss to West Ham was the kind of home loss we’ve seen so many times in recent seasons. 16 shots with only one finding the target, allowing ourselves to be killed off in three minutes of self-destructive madness, and only coming into the game at 0-2 down. It was Villa’s eighth home league loss of the season from 13 games which, no matter how anybody spins it, is relegation standard.
Villa are four points down on their tally of points, when comparing the results from the same games played so last season, and it was only a dramatic upturn in form in the final months of last season which ultimately saved them. The relegation battle is as tight as ever this season, but Villa cannot wait for other teams to catch them up.
A minimum of four points is needed from the Newcastle and Norwich games to temporarily lift Villa clear again with Chelsea, Manchester United and a rearranged trip to Manchester City on the horizon, but focus must first be on breaking the St James’ Park curse. At least we’re not at home. UTV
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