By Ben Cripps
The Villa Fiver- Games 26-30
So, another five games have passed, and here we are again. 30 down, 8 to go, plus one game, let’s say two games at Wembley to look forward to in the coming weeks.
Since the last Villa Fiver, a lot has changed at Villa, and with it a sense of new found optimism, inspired by two victories over the Baggies in the space of a week, the resurgence of a number of previously under performing stars, and one man who has brought a whole lot more excitement to the club than his predecessor did.
The outlying issue raised as I started the previous Fiver, was the crying need for improvement in the goals department, something to get us all off our seats for once, something to cheer about. Since Sherwood has arrived, I don’t think anyone could argue that there hasn’t been a vast step forward, gone are the days of sideways-backwards football we saw under Lambert, and it seems Sherwood has got the team playing with an attacking mentality, which is greatly refreshing to see.
Anyway, let’s have a little recap of fixtures 26-30. It began with a home fixture against Stoke, Sherwood’s first game in charge, and Villa Park was oozing positivity, but after a certain Dutchman gave it away at the end, it triggered a mass exodus and some boos on the full-time whistle, and another frustrating week for the Villa faithful.
Next up came a trip up to St James’ Park, a game most of us would have looked at as one of the “winnable” games in the run in to the end of the season, myself included. However, it did occur to me that we rarely get 3 points there, not since the 04/05 season have we triumphed there in the league, a worrying stat. Sadly, that record will continue.
Next was the last gasp win against West Brom at Villa Park. Could this be the season defining moment we’ve been waiting for? Benteke stepped up, the coolest man in Birmingham, and slotted home, resulting in absolute mayhem in the Holte End and all around Villa Park, relief and jubilation combined to leave the claret and blue faithful with hope again.
Following this, and a triumphant victory over the Baggies in the quarter-final in a beautifully vibrant Villa Park, we headed back up north to the Stadium of Light. Another very winnable game, and the claret and blue army travelled in numbers. Little did they know of what was about to unfold, we had scored four goals in the space of 45 minutes of football. After many of the home supporters left at the break, it was a fairly straight forward job for the Villa to see out the game.
Fixture 30 saw Swansea visit Villa Park, a team who have all sorts of quality in their side, who are always going to be a tough team to conquer. The game, despite being 0-0 for the majority, did have plenty of chances, before Gomis’s winner in the dying minutes.
Aston Villa results games 26 to 30
Last season’s results are in brackets.
Stoke (h) L 1-2 ( L 1-4)
Newcastle (a) L 0-1 ( L 0-1)
West Brom (h) W 2-1 ( W 4-3)
Sunderland (a) W 4-0 ( W 1-0)
Swansea (h) L 0-1 ( D 1-1)
Points difference compared to the same fixtures last season: -1
Points: 6 (7)
Goals scored: 7 (7)
Goals conceded: 5 (5)
So, to compare to the corresponding five fixtures from last season, there is a -1 point difference, with an identical goal difference. The only game giving a different outcome being the Swansea fixture, the other 4 matches showing replicated outcomes. These past five games have seen us score seven goals, whereas the previous five saw one. Despite the difference in opponents, and perhaps more difficult opponents in games 21-25, this is a sign of improvement under Sherwood and a stopping of the rot.
After 30 games – compared to corresponding results
Points difference compared to same fixtures last season: -4
Points: 28 (32)
Goals scored: 19 (32)
Goals conceded: 39 (38)
Goal difference compared to fixtures last season: -14
If we look at the stats after 30 games, and compare them to the same 30 fixtures against the same opponents last season, Villa are four points worse off. Considering the club only managed 38 points in total for the season, last term, at the moment they are heading for a 34 point finish. While this is absolutely shocking and nowhere near good enough, the big question is will it be enough for survival?
Certainly the next five games cast a worrying shadow…
The road ahead:
Manchester United (a) (L 1-4)
QPR (h) (Cardiff W 2-0)
Spurs (a) (L 0-4)
Manchester City (a) (L 0-4)
Everton (h) (L 0-2)
At a glance, these five upcoming games seem rather daunting, and perhaps rightly so. However, it is important to remember that anyone can beat anyone in this league, as we’ve all seen it. There is no reason why we can’t get results out of the games against United, Spurs, City and Everton, and the game against QPR screams must-win of course.
Now is the time for Sherwood to make his mark on the club and steer us to safety, ideally before I have to write the next Villa Fiver Column! Realistically though, I would like to see a total of at least 5 points out of these five games, (3 against QPR and whatever we can pick up elsewhere), but we shall see. Let’s not forget a certain game at Wembley amongst those, see you there! UTV.
Follow Ben on Twitter – @BenC_1874
Follow MOMS on Twitter – @oldmansaid