Aston Villa limp on as the progress myth is shattered
Ten goals have been conceded in three demoralising defeats since the 1-0 win over Chelsea last month, and the latest home defeat to Fulham was for many fans a new low point of the season. Here’s a look at the Good, Bad and Ugly of recent Aston Villa problems and the club’s latest home let-down.
Marc Albrighton was perhaps one of Villa’s livelier players, and though he can often leave you frustrated with his lack of refinement, his efforts were at least a sign that some of the players do seem to care about the team’s struggles, Matt Lowton’s desperate goalline clearance being another indicator of the desire to stop the rot.
Grant Holt looked keen to stake his claim for the vacant striker spot and put in a decent performance to add to his nicely-taken header. However, one of the most obvious things that were missing from Villa’s performance was vitality. Perhaps the sparse striking options will encourage Lambert to bring one or two of Villa’s NextGen stars to inject a bit more desire and heart in a team which is beginning to look increasingly stale.
The news of Christian Benteke’s injury in the build-up was the latest example of injury hampering the team’s progress. Okore’s early exit has still been perhaps the biggest blow, but with no Benteke and no Kozák and an out-of-form Agbonlahor and Weimann, Villa’s striking options look about as threadbare as they could be.
Villa’s defending is at least consistent in that it never fails to leave you wanting to go and watch a bit of Sunday league for a better standard. Naivety and chaos are the two words that spring to mind most over the course of ninety minutes watching the opposition stroll through our backline.
A few key players were missing on Saturday but that did not make the standard of performance any less alarming. The absence of any invention or confidence at home to the league’s bottom club was frightening, and it makes you wonder how the team get out of this downward spiral.
It’s been much-covered already in the aftermath of the game but to lose ten home league games for the first time in the club’s history really demonstrates how almost impressively bad this season has been at times. Results against a few of the big boys have saved us, but with 10+ (there’s plenty of time yet) home defeats the club will be so lucky to have escaped relegation.
The ‘one step forward, two steps back’ football that Villa fans have come to recognise has been taken rather too far this season. To lose at home to the Premier League’s bottom club twice in a season is quite something, and if the Boxing Day Palace defeat felt like a new low, it is well and truly déjà vu.
It comes to something when you have every reason to be truly scared about the return trip to Palace next weekend. Pulis has got them decisively on the up, and Selhurst Park will be bouncing with the anticipation of climbing into mid-table when Villa visit.
If Fulham take the confidence and form we handed them on a plate into their home game with Norwich, a club who have well and truly lost it with the ridiculously-timed sacking of Chris Hughton, then Villa could be looking at just a four point cushion once again with five games to go.
Perhaps being away from home will spark the team into life again, but the only thing for certain is that the club and its supporters need something to lift them – we’ve given up on ‘progress’, but let us at least be proven wrong in thinking that we’re starting to move backwards.
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