Villa did it the hard way leaving it very late at Hillsborough to win all three vital points to keep themselves alive and kicking in the race for automatic promotion. The less said about the first hour, the better, as Villa struggled to get any foothold in the game and gifted Wednesday, space and opportunities.
Spurred on my Glenn Whelan’s equaliser to make it 2-2, the Irish international’s first goal in seven odd years, Villa then turned it on at the end for a 4-2 win that certainly flattered the visitors.
Still, three points in the bag and five reasons to be cheerful as Villa supporters…
Lets be honest, for the first hour, it looked like automatic promotion was just going to be a pipe dream. 2-1 down against a team that pretty much had its first XI sidelined with injury. Villa were far from convincing, but they dug in and turned the game around in the closing stages to produce a late show to take the three points and stay in touch with Cardiff.
The closing scenes suggested that finally this is a club with a bit of fight in it, once again.
2. Conor’s Volleys
Conor Hourihane has noticeably been a little quiet during recent games, but as long as he pops up with his winning half-volleys, all is good. His rocket against the Blues made the victory feel like a 4-0 win, but his goal against the Owls maybe season defining. If Villa had drawn the game, they’d be six points adrift of the Bluebirds with games fast running out.
3. Grabban Addition
Lewis Grabban certainly looks like a useful addition and may prove pivotal to help get this automatic promotion push over the line. Two goals in two games, since he’s been properly introduced to the team is a good start (he might have had three, if Snodgrass hadn’t taken penalty-taking duties off him at Hillsborough).
As I mentioned in the Villa player ratings for the Sheffield Wednesday game, there is a grace about him in both touch and movement, and the fact that he’d already scored 12 goals before the new year, suggests he might have one of his best ever seasons helping Villa’s cause.
Squad depth is certainly a big advantage that Villa now have and Villa supporters shouldn’t get too distracted by the excuse of injuries. We have cover for every position on the pitch, we just sometimes don’t have the tactics.
4. Return of the Cutting Edge
Both Jack Grealish and Albert Adomah should be returning to the fold in either of the next two games, which despite what I’ve just said about Villa’s squad depth, is a major boost.
After all, one has been the new catalyst and driving force of the team in 2018, while the other is the team’s top scorer this season.
5. No Advantage Taken
During Villa’s ‘two game blip’, out of the top six teams, only Fulham and Cardiff managed wins in that period, so Villa pretty much have the play-off spots cemented as their back-up plan.
Automatic promotion is the goal though, for the obvious advantages in preparing for next season that it brings, and there’s been another glimmer of light on that front.
With Wolves winless in their last three games, there’s a chance they might be pulled back if they slip again and Cardiff and Villa keep winning. The Dog Heads have to visit both Cardiff and Villa Park, so maybe both of the top spots haven’t been settled just yet.
Sleep with one eye open when it comes to Fulham, though. They have won their last eight home games (beating both Villa and Wolves in their last two games at Craven Cottage).
Being the form team of the division, I certainly see Fulham as more of a threat than Derby at this stage, to battle it out with Cardiff and Villa (and maybe Wolves, if they slip any more).
Last week, a Villa supporter wrote for MOMS his predictions for Villa’s remaining games of the season. Some said he was being optimistic, but after Villa’s 4-2 win against Wednesday, we’re already two points up on what was predicted.
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