1. The Obvious
Wembley! Villa’s season will be alive in the traditional sense of still being in the hunt for silverware and Europe until at least April. This my friends is progress on recent seasons.
Villa return to Wembley for the first time since the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea, five years ago. That 3-0 defeat (although much closer than the score suggests) was Villa’s second trip to the capital within a month, following their 2-1 League Cup final defeat against Manchester United.
Of the current team, both Guzan and Delph were on the bench against Chelsea, with Agbonlahor the only starter.
If you analyse the draws after Villa had been knocked out in the two previous FA Cup campaigns, Lambert had some potentially favourable runs to Wembley, but slipped up embarrassingly against lower league opposition. Although he couldn’t have come as closer to Wembley than just needing to beat Bradford over two-legs in the League Cup semi-final.
Still, that is in the past. If we can pick up some points to ease our relegation worries before the mid-April FA Cup date, Wembley will be quite a day out.
2. Wing Joy
Scott Sinclair scored again and could potentially be in the hunt to finish Villa’s top scorer despite only arriving in January and not even being a striker (even though he wears the number 9 shirt). While Sherwood seems to have dispensed with Lambert’s other parting gift, Carles Gil, Sinclair has impressed beyond expectation so far with his quick and direct wing play. You get the feeling there’s plenty to come from the Manchester City player and lets not forget he’s already had the experience of scoring a hat-trick at Wembley.
It’s worth also giving a shout out to Charles N’Zogbia too, who has been re-re-introduced into the fold. If Sherwood can finally get him to sparkle in a Villa shirt, our squad with also the late return of Libor Kozak will suddenly feel a bit more weighty.
3. Impressive Lowton
It’s largely gone unnoticed that Matthew Lowton, Villa’s makeshift left-back in the double-header of derbies, has played better there than in his natural position of right-back. Last season, most fans would have probably turned round and gone back to the pub, if they’d arrived at Villa Park to discover a back four line-up of: Bacuna, Okore, Clark and Lowton.
Despite riding their luck at times, the clean sheet in the FA Cup quarter-final was most welcome in calming supporter nerves. As well as contributing to that, lets not forget it was Lowton’s late run into the box that won Villa a penalty against the Baggies to give Villa the three points in the league fixture.
Sherwood might struggle to drop him when Villa’s recognised left-backs return to fitness.
4. Win Ratio
Tim Sherwood’s Villa FA Cup win ratio is 100%. Our name’s on the cup! His overall Villa win ratio is now 50% – that’s five more league wins before the end of the season. Safety is guaranteed!
5. I like a party with a little atmosphere
From the kick-off to over the final whistle it was some atmosphere at Villa Park for the FA Cup quarter-final. The Holte was impressive with balloons, flags and inflatables, plus it was in fine voice throughout the game. There was no way West Brom were going to win with the 12th Man in full flow.
While the media have unnecessarily sensationalised events (some of the journalism has been woeful), which which started from the BBC commentator’s irresponsible comments during the live coverage, lets not let this distract from the efforts of all the Villa supporters that turned up on Saturday. Everyone was excellent.
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