The long-running ‘Five Reasons’ returns, not to be confused by those who have nicked the title. Rather than state the bleeding obvious of recent top draw results, lets look at some of the more under the radar stuff that are reasons to be cheerful as Villa fans…
Pretty much all Villa fans (including MOMS) thought the season was over a month ago, when the team crawled off the Villa Park pitch after losing 2-0 to the Baggies, but somehow we now find ourselves in the play-off spots for the first time this season.
The fact that it’s timed with Villa going into an international break isn’t necessarily a bad thing. People talk about wanting to keep the momentum going, but the chance to take stock, re-focus and get some other players fit and back in the squad, will sharpen the team for the final run-in.
Maybe the international break will make Villa more robust and help extend the winning run?
Steering in the Right Direction
MOMS always questioned the decision of shipping out Jed Steer on loan, when he should have at least been number two behind Orjan Nyland at the start of the season, rather than Mark Bunn.
After Nyland’s long-term injury, Villa then dropped a decent £5m+ on Croatian number one Lovre Kalinić and recalled Jed Steer from Charlton.
Is it typical Villa that after spending big on new keepers, Steer is now Dean Smith’s number one?
While he hasn’t been exactly busy due to Villa’s improved defensive organisation and personnel, he’s yet to put a foot wrong and has looked sound.
If there’s one player that many Villa fans have written off, it’s the now 35-year-old defensive midfielder, Glenn Whelan. Many blame/thank him for the dismissal of Steve Bruce, after his missed penalty in injury-time against Preston, but since that moment, it’s been something of a rebirth for the Irishman.Embed from Getty Images
He’s brought a nice balance to the Villa midfield since Jack Grealish has returned.
His passing has got more progressive and he’s read the game well to shield Villa’s defence, closing down the channels for the opposition to attack Villa through the middle.
His presence has also allowed John McGinn to serve a two-match ban and Conor Hourihane to attend to the birth of his new baby, without having any impact on the Villa team.
Whelan has certainly been one of the key reasons to Villa’s recent revival.
From the fifth place team to the tenth place team, that make up the likely contenders for the two likely play-off spots that are still realistically up for grabs, Villa have the superior goal difference of +14.
This is five goals better than Middlesbrough and 12 better than Derby County, who would be considered the main play-off rivals at this stage for the two live spots.
Considering how many goals Villa have been shipping this season, the decent positive goal difference is a big plus.
With the defence now tighten (three clean sheets in the last four games) and the goals flowing again, the gd should hopefully only increase too.
Lambert’s 1-1 Favours
While Villa have been on a four-game winning run against play-off teams, ex-Villa boss Paul Lambert’s bottom of the table Ipswich have had a run of three 1-1 draws against Villa’s play-off candidates.
As well as drawing 1-1 at the Baggies, Ipswich have most notably also pegged back Bristol City and Nottingham Forest, helping Villa gain a firm foothold in the play-off picture.
With Ipswich as good as relegated this season, it’s certainly an unexpected bonus for Villa.
1. Lambert has finally done something useful for us
2. that third kit is hideous
3. I’m not so sure the international break is something to be particularly cheerful about; the humiliation of losing to a nation whose national sport is goat polo* and whose main exports consist of mankinis and potassium, McGuinn will probably suffer from shame-induced PTSD for the rest of his life.
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