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Can Aston Villa Add to the Premier League Great Escapes?

We are Villans and we can’t just give up

Can Aston Villa even begin to dream of pulling off one of the Premier League great escapes or is it just pie in the sky and we’re clutching at straws to even think of it?

Put it this way, if Rémi Garde can pull Aston Villa out of the mire and secure the club’s Premier League status at the end of the season, perhaps only Claudio Ranieri could pip him to the Manager of the Year award, if he led Leicester City to a Top 4 finish.

In a MOMS poll last week only 21% of Villa fans thought Villa would survive relegation this season. The Birmingham Mail also ran a similar poll, and the result was exactly the same – 21%.

79% of Villa supporters can’t be blamed for thinking the club is doomed, after all, from Villa’s current position of six points from 15 games, no team has ever survived. In fact, only one team has ever been in that position in the Premier League. Derby County in 2007/08 were also on six points after 15 games, and they finished the season on a record pathetic 11 points.

This month of December will define what Randy Lerner is willing to do in the January window

Lets not kid ourselves, you’ve just got to look at the young inexperienced Villa squad with its lack of match winners or leaders, to realise the writing is very much on the wall. The new ‘transfer committee’ bought in too many inexperienced young players in at the same time, with little ‘ready-to-go’ players. Normally you bleed in young or overseas players one or two at a time, not have half a team of them replacing your previous best players. It was naive at best.

Yet, while supporters have been slowly drained of our spirit and belief over the past four seasons, we are Villans and we can’t just give up.

One thing is for sure though, those supporters waiting until January for some new players to be some miracle cavalry to rescue Villa out of this mess, are kidding themselves.  The key period is NOW. This month of December will define what Randy Lerner is willing to do in the January window and if Villa have a platform of points to launch a fight back.

Villa are four games away from the half-way point and sitting on only six points!

For Villa to escape the drop, it would surely be a bigger achievement than even the below Premier League great escapes.

Five Premier League Great Escapes

5 Leicester City 2014/15

 

After 15 games: 20th on 10 points

While the Foxes great survival success lacked any of the last grasp drama of the other great escapes, it was perhaps the most complete resurrection from the dead. Despite occupying bottom position from November to April, Leicester City then absolutely blitzed it, the momentum from which sees them currently top the table this season.

 

After gaining 19 points from 29 games, they managed to equal the same amount in a period of eight games that saw six wins, one draw with the only defeat coming against the champions Chelsea.

In the end Leicester strolled over the safety line with games to spare, flying past Villa in the process.

4 West Bromwich Albion 2004/05

 

After 15 games: 20th on 10points

There used to be a saying, whoever was bottom on Christmas day ended up relegated at the end of the season. That is until Villa’s noisy neighbours did a spot of the Harry Houdini’s in the 2004/05 season. After Gary Megson was sacked towards the end of 2004, his successor, Bryan Robson, was winless until January. Then, results improved and the Baggies would lose only three of their final dozen matches – before the Baggies entered a final four-way final-day relegation scramble.

Each of the bottom-four sides had a chance of staying up on the final day, with bottom placed West Brom still needing to beat Portsmouth and hope three other results went their way.

 

Norwich City’s fate was sealed with a 6-0 loss at Fulham, while Manchester United beat Southampton 2-1 at St Mary’s Stadium. Then despite Villa’s current much-maligned left-back Kieran Richardson (on-loan at the Baggies from Manchester United) putting the Baggies 2-0 up against Pompey, they still needed Crystal Palace not to win at Charlton Athletic…but Palace were winning.

A Charlton equaliser though gave Robson and Albion the final piece in the unlikely survival jigsaw.

3 Fulham 2007/08

 

After 15 games: 13th on 13 points

At this same stage of the back in 2007 Fulham were in lower mid-table not expecting fully the struggle that was to come. Then Fulham dropped like a stone, as one Premier League team always seems to do after an ok start to the season.

Fulham with three games of the season to go were as good as gone. In the first of those games, which they needed to win all three to have a chance to survive, they found themselves 2-0 down against Manchester City with 20 minutes to go.

 

Roy Hodgson then made a substitute that changed everything, bringing on Diomansy Kamara who scored goals either side of a Danny Murphy equaliser to give them a dramatic win.

Then Fulham beat the Blues (who got relegated) and beat Pompey on the last day to seal the deal.

2 Sunderland 2013/14 

 

After 15 games: 20th on 8 points

This example is as close to Villa’s predicament as the great escapes get. Like Villa this season, the Black Cats started the season in a comatosed state, destination Championship.

Fast-forward to the closing stages of the season they were bottom, seven points from safety with six matches remaining.

At Christmas, Sunderland boss had famously declared they needed “a miracle” and that is what he somehow served up.

 

Sunderland’s closing fixtures stunk, but like a team possessed they dealt with whoever was in front of them – they beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Man United at Old Trafford, and drew against Man City – in a truly remarkable survival effort.

When you look at Aston Villa’s fixtures in this season’s final few weeks, this is certainly the blue print they will have to follow to stay up this season.

1 WEST HAM 2006/07

After 15 games: 17th on 14 points

Villa will know it’s important to at least stay in touch to have a chance of escape in the final run in, although after 29 games of the 2006/07 season, West Ham were bottom on 20 points, 10 points adrift of safety and the team in 17th place, Manchester City also had two games in hand.

But with the January buys of Tevez and Mascherano settled in, West Ham went on the rampage and won seven of their last nine games to stay up, including a last day 1-0 win at Old Trafford. The Hammers finished on 41 points, three points above the relegation zone, while Sheffield United were left fuming and relegated.

 

Blades fans believed Tevez and Argentina teammate Mascherano should have been banned from playing for West Ham that season after it emerged that the club had breached third-party ownership rules over their signing.

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