Remi Garde said before the match that he thought Villa had the ‘survival spirit’, but on the evidence of Saturday it’s hard to agree. Villa have still not won in the league since the opening day of the season, 16 weeks ago by the time that the home match with Watford rolls around at the weekend (Wednesday this week, will mark 200 days since our last home league win). When Villa last won in the league it was still the school summer holidays, and Tim Sherwood’s promises of a brighter season still rang in our ears.
Whereas a couple of weeks ago there was still some historical hope, we have now reached the numbing realisation that no team as bad as us this far into a Premier League season has ever stayed up. The average number of points needed to stay in the Premier League in the last five years is somewhere between 36 and 37. Even if you round down to 35, that leaves a Villa side which has accrued just five points from the first 39 needing to get at least 30 of the remaining 75.
The hard truth, I’m afraid, is that on current form and performances we deserve to go down. We are the worst team in the league, and if we were not supporters of the club ourselves then we would be laughing, writing Villa off with barely a second’s thought and saying the same thing that has often been said of Sunderland in recent years – “well, it’s about time they went down”.
We’ve been incredibly fortuitous not to fall through the trapdoor in any of the last four seasons, and Randy Lerner and the board can scarcely have any complaints if and when it finally happens.
If there’s such thing as a ‘six-pointer’ just a third of the way through a season, then Watford at home on Saturday is just that. Forgive me for lack of confidence in Villa securing three points. The promoted side are an organised team unit, have 11 more points than us, and in summer signing Odion Ighalo have a striker who has scored just three league goals fewer than our entire squad so far this season.
After Sunderland’s smash-and-grab win at Crystal Palace on Monday night, victory over Watford wouldn’t even lift us off the bottom of the table. Nevertheless, with a run of games from which you would hope there is a decent points tally for the taking, it is vital that Garde finds a winning formula on Saturday.
This has been sobering reading, but it is realism rather than pessimism. The odds are stacked very high indeed against our survival, that much is obvious, but Leicester City were bottom this time last season, albeit with double our points tally. If we can finally get the ball rolling with a second win of the season against Watford, we’ll have given ourselves a fighting chance. If not, we’re staring right down the barrel.
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