The month of December with its six fixtures mainly against Championship teams with play-off/promotion ambitions was going to define whether Villa had genuine automatic promotion credentials or whether a play-off berth was as good as it could get.
The disappointing 2-2 draw at home against Sheffield United, after being 2-0 up, made it just three points from a possible 12. Villa are now 16 points behind Wolves (bye-bye title) and nine points behind Cardiff. With the likes of Derby and Bristol City six points above Villa.
With the Blades losing their last three away games and with perhaps bigger injury issues than Villa, like Millwall before them, it was a home game Villa should be winning.
Not winning in isolation isn’t a big deal, but Villa are now on a winless run where individual errors, from supposed seasoned internationals, have cost them dearly in a vital month.
Still, here’s five reasons to be cheerful…for now.
1. 10 minutes
Villa were good for 10 minutes. Two-nil up after Adomah’s penalty and Jedinak’s header. It looked like they were going to have the game sewn up by the half-hour mark, like Derby did at home to Millwall earlier in the day.
10 good minutes is an improvement on the last couple of games. Yes, it’s got that bad!
Despite not winning in their four games in December so far, Villa are still in the play-off places (at the moment). It’ll be a failure not to get automatic promotion, but not the end of the world.
MOMS had expected Villa to stay in the top six until the end of the season, once they got there. They will certainly need results in the upcoming games against Brentford and Middlesbrough to stay there going into 2018.
3. Goal Cover
What is going on with Villa’s strikers? Around £30m spent on three strikers that were meant to fire Villa back to the Premier League. One got injured on international duty when Villa should have done their hardest not to send him since he hadn’t been fit enough to play for his club, one is currently in Australia due to personal issues and a problem with his gate, and the third is simply a ghost, whether he’s on the pitch or not.
Thank god for Albert Adomah, who if it wasn’t for Andre Green’s injury and Robert Snodgrass’s insistence to play on the right, probably wouldn’t even have been picked by Bruce.
Adomah’s 11 league goals (35% of all Villa’s league goals) is keeping Villa alive.
Villa will struggle to get promoted if they don’t get a recognised striker chipping in with the goals though.
We’re not bottom of the league going into Christmas unlike a certain Birmingham team. I don’t believe in using the Blues’ woes as a comfort blanket, but Villa’s form in December hasn’t helped the festive mood, so you’ve got to get it where you can.
If Villa don’t get promoted it will be comparable to the Blues getting relegated (in MOMS book anyway), so they’ll be nothing to laugh about if we don’t go up.
5. It’s Christmas
You should get some presents to take your mind off the useful Villa woe at this time.
Take a day off thinking about the Villa (unless you get a Villa duvet cover set for Christmas, then you’ll be forced to dream about them). Also, embrace the Christmas spirit and don’t call out Bruce yet…until the new year at least.
It would be good though if the Villa boss delivers a couple of three-point presents before the month is out…for everyone’s sake.