By Jake Jennings
The Villa Fiver: Games 1-5
The Villa Fiver returns to chart the progress of Aston Villa results of this season compared to the last one.
Currently, Villa stand high and mighty in a very respectable 3rd position in the league table, after an impressive start to the season. Defensive displays have been solid for the most part, and this can mainly be attributed to the fact that two experienced heads in Vlaar and Senderos have formed a great defensive partnership at centre back. Not to mention the revival of Alan Hutton and the shrewd purchase of Aly Cissokho. Both have added much-needed defensive stability at their respective full-back positions, as well offering width going forward (a must with our lack of out-and-out wingers).
We’ll compare the fixtures played so far to the respective fixtures played last season (with last season’s statistics in brackets).
Stoke (A) W 1-0 (L 1-2)
Newcastle (H) D 0-0 (L 1-2)
Hull (H) W 2-1 (W 3-1)
Liverpool (A) W 1-0 (D 2-2)
Arsenal (H) L 0-3 (L 1-2)
Let’s compare the stats:
Points: 10 (4)
Goals scored: 4 (8)
Goals conceded: 4 (9)
Goal difference over the fiver: 0 (-1)
Points difference compared to fixtures last season – + 6
Goal difference compared to fixtures last season – +1
Villa seem to be on the up with an improved defensive record especially when Vlaar is leading the side from the back. We were without him against Arsenal and it showed! Villa had only conceded one goal in the previous four games leading up to the Arsenal game, so one thing is for sure, we need our captain fit.
It may seem a little worrying that in our respective games last season, we scored twice as many goals, but take into account that injuries to both Benteke and Kozak means our season has started with Agbonlahor and Weimann needing to contribute more goals to the cause, despite not being our out-and-out strikers.
It is worth noting that the next five games offer up some serious tests with Chelsea (A), Man City (H), Everton (A), QPR (A) and Tottenham (H) all on the horizon. In terms of the amount of points Villa can realistically get from them, anything abovt five will be decent going.
This Time Last Year
At this point last season, Villa sat 13th in the table with 6 points after the memorable 3-1 victory against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium and a 1-0 victory away at Norwich. Those 6 points were Villa’s only points in the first 5 games, but given the fact that we had Arsenal (A), Chelsea (A) and Liverpool (H) in our first three games, this was about as much as we could have realistically expected. We’ll have a quick look at how we compare statistically this time around:
Overall points: 10 (6)
Goals scored: 4 (6)
Goals conceded: 4 (6)
Goal difference: 0 (0)
So, from these stats we can see that while our defence has improved, our attack has not performed as well as it was performing last season. Both of which were apparent also in the five respective games as discussed earlier.
With Benteke and Kozak due back soon, we’ll certainly have more firepower when they are available for selection. If we keep our men in defence fit and our midfield continues to contribute goals, namely if Fabian Delph continues his promising form he showed last season, we could even be the surprise package this season.
Regardless of whether you’re an optimist, a realist or a pessimist when it comes to Villa’s chances this season, one thing is certain: we’ve certainly started better than most could have expected. Hopefully the team can build on the forward momentum that has been apparent in the first four games and let’s hope the defeat to Arsenal was a virus-induced blip on the road to better things!