After seeing the below table do the rounds on Twitter last night, it was too good not to get a mention here. Yes, folks, when it comes to socking to the ‘New Sky Four’* Aston Villa are the best team in the land.
In a nutshell, plucky performances and decent results against the current top four teams has pretty much saved Villa from relegation this season. In contrast, the team have been punching well below their weight when it comes to playing the teams in the bottom half and middle of the league. Certainly, any calibre of team has been able to turn up and pick up points at Villa Park. It hasn’t been pretty, but our record against the top four is a promising silver lining to build on.
In any given season, in terms of ambition, Villa should be in the same bracket of Spurs, Everton and Newcastle, able to challenge the top teams on their day and also be in for a sniff of a cup or Europe.
Over the past couple of seasons, when I’ve mentioned the Spurs comparison, there’s always a few fans that will say Spurs are out of our league. Yes, they’ve enjoyed better recent times than Villa, but that’s only very recently. For all the Gareth Bale-funded additions to their team this season, their current position in the league is mainly down to being able to consistently beat the weaker teams of the league.
If you want to know why Spurs have bottled a top four challenge once again this season, you only have to look at the below table of team’s records against the top four. Spurs have picked up just one solitary point.
Contrast that to Villa’s 10 points, and you could almost start dreaming as a Villa fan, that if we could just take care of the teams in the bottom half, we’d be pushing for Europe.
For Villa to beat the weaker teams in the league is a realistic goal, for Spurs to leave the dents on the Top Four that Villa have done is arguably a tougher task.
Villa’s chief problem is they are just too god damn random – able to beat the top of the league and then lose against the bottom, the next week.
The reality is of course, Villa’s 10 points against the top brass have been vital in lifting us out of a relegation mire.
Villa obviously operate better as a team when they are being dictated to, which is normally the case, when playing the top four. This gives Villa the chance to play to their strengths of their potent counter attacking threat under Lambert. It’s not in the ego of most of these teams to show constraint when playing Villa, thus it leaves them open. Manchester City’s visit to Villa Park was the best example of that. They were almost naive in losing 3-2.
Brendan Rodgers played a much cleverer game when Liverpool visited earlier in the season. He put the shackles on his full backs and it reaped rewards with a disciplined 1-0 win.
Villa’s no fear approach to the top four isn’t just limited to just these 10 points, there could have been more, if Suarez hadn’t dived to complete a 2-2 comeback and Villa had more of the rub of the green with ref decisions at Stamford Bridge.
Villa are the only team out of the 16 to boast a positive goal difference against the top four, an impressive statistic considering there’s been seven games played. They’ll obviously need a positive result against Manchester City, the only game left where they face a top four team, but you just never know with Villa.
While there is much for Paul Lambert to do in terms of tweaking his team and making them consistent, the very fact they’ve done so well against the big boys, shows the scope and potential this Villa team may possess. UTV
* ‘New Sky Four’ is basically Liverpool replacing Manchester United
yes but when the squad has virtually been rebuilt over 2 summer transfer windows it does take time for them to gel & start getting results , especially as most of the players bought in are new to the Prem .
But maybe the bright finish to last season lulled fans into having false expectations about this season . I certainly thought we’d be in a better position by xmas , However the injuries dashed that idea ,especially as they created situations where some positions had no natural cover forcing the need for others to play out of position
It also seems as if some fans are a little too content with the old concept of a starting 11 + extras , when in fact if Villa is to become the top club we’d like it to be there needs to be better use of the squad . But that means using the fringe players even if they are not up to the speed of the Prem . As without playing time they will not be able to seamlessly slot in when needed . And untill the whole squad is able to rotate as needed there will be times when performances will not be up to expectations .Also it would seem Lambert does need to learn how different players react to changes in tactics , and again that can only be learnt by experimentation , hence the sometimes unfathomable substitutions
Indeed. Perhaps that is inexperience too. Whatever way you look at it. It’s better than last season, IMO.
Or perhaps less desperate is closer to the truth. I’m not breaking out cigars or champers yet BUT…
I am hopefully that these signs of progress indicate further improvement next season is on the cards. Lambo is going nowhere, the plan is moving forward and it’s looking brighter than it has done.
We’ve had four long hard miserable seasons with relegation staring us in the face, to a degree at least. Like the economy there is some sign of recovery. This is a good thing. Just hope we can avoid the equivalent of zero hour contracts…
11th place & a thin line ? The thing with a league is that it is about all the games within that league . But of course the last 2 wins were significant as there was a remote chance that the mire could be beckoning but equally the reverse was always a possibility
What does remain to be seen is whether Villa can continue to play their way to more successes or if they will allow them selves to be bullied into failure . And for that reason the next 2 matches could be import for more than just the points . Win them & we will have the magic 40 ,but more importantly it will show that Villa has improved as both have been bogey teams even if @ the opposite ends of the spectrum
Whilest the stats against the top are good they are not entirely new especially if you take ManU out of the old statistics ,as even when they were playing badly in the Fergie era they always upped their game when it came to playing us ,
But we should not discount Villa’s performances against the top teams as it shows that we have a squad capable of playing footie when given the chance .
As for the relegation mire were Villa ever really in it this season, even if there were those who were only too eager to claim we were ? Yes there were games when we looked awefull , and the stats showed how little possession we had . But what of those stats ? Some of our best results & I count Saturdays as such, the opposition had far more of the ball yet could not do any thing with it, that counted .
As for the comparison with Spurs, I agree that is significant and bodes well for the future , especially as Saturdays match showed one significant difference from the Villa team of the MON era ——– they had the ability to get in the box & open up the defence . And if they can start to do that to teams who park the bus we really do have progress from the team that finished 6th under MON .
But let’s wait and see what the next 2 matches bring
Colin – swap Villa points total vs the top 4 with Spur’s, then look at what the table would look like. Villa would be right in the relegation mire. If they had got 0 or 1 points in the last couple of games, they would have not been sitting pretty at all. These two wins were crucial, as they’ve completely changed the complexion. It’s been a thin line.
But MOMS if we’d lost ANY two games we actually won we’d’ve been in the mire earlier on. We played well and won, simple as that.
There are plenty of line lines in footy and imo the important ones are during matches. Against the top 4 they involve the Saurez dive and the crap ref at Chelsea (conveniently forgotten by Mourinho).
There have been many more in many more matches. The thing is there always are. The Villa’s real problem is the lack of consistency. it’s pointed out that you have to expect that with young players.
In addition, as was pointed out we like to play against teams that come at us, which is why the games against the top teams have gone well.
Personally, I like the attitude of Colin Gale, were we ever really in the mire? It looked a little shaky for a while and after losing to Palace at VP things looked pretty bad. However, have we actually been in the relegation zone at all this season?
It’s certainly been an easier ride getting to safety (nearly there) than this season. Admittedly there have been some terrible performances – lack of consistency.
On another point, the win against Chelsea was exceptional given their form.
These last two games were more key, as supporter unrest was building and with a spotlight of three home games on the trot, the Villa Park crowd could have potentially turned against Lambert. It’s easy to break out the cigars now and say, we were never in trouble, but a draw against Norwich and a loss to Chelsea, and Villa would have been in exactly the same pickle as last season. What is great to see, is like last season, when the chips were down, they responded. In fact, during games, they have constantly responded well to adversity (13 pts won from losing positions, 2nd best in league). I just wish we would make life easier for ourselves from the start, rather than needing to be woken up in order to spark into life and play. UTV
Comments are closed.