It's barely February, but the Premier League table-watching has started already. Even when Aston Villa aren't playing, Villa fans are taking sides, and they're different than the ones we might usually be expected to take. Granted, cheering Manchester City over Birmingham City is always going to be a given. But on Tuesday, there was full support for Arsenal over Everton. On Wednesday, it's Tottenham Hotspur over Blackburn, West Ham over Blackpool. Fans are crying out for anyone in the middle of the table to lose.
But again, it's February. There are three months left of the season. Is it really worth fretting over teams that sit just a few points ahead in the table? I'm guilty of it as much as anyone. I'm sitting here cheering on Brescia so that Roma don't take all three points in their Serie A game. But it feels like my time would be better spent concentrating on how Napoli absolutely fell apart today against Chievo Verona.
Yet the table involves a bit of an escape. When our teams fall apart at the hands of better competition, it's nice to have something else to concentrate on. Yeah, Villa may have dropped points against Manchester United, but at least Everton or West Bromwich Albion aren't going to leapfrog us in the table. Even if we can't play well, at least there's consolation in other teams having equally poor seasons.
I just can't help, though, going back to the fact that it's only February. I'd rather see the fun play of clubs like West Brom or Blackpool beating the likes of the Blackburns and Wolverhamptons of the world. It's not yet time to revert back to the fear of fighting relegation. And do we really think that there's a chance for a European position? Is it really essential to cheer ugliness, just to see if seventh (or sixth, even) is achievable?
What do we think, Villa fans? Is table-watching important at this time in the season? Or is it best just to cheer on the inventive play of certain clubs in the league, even if they happen to sit a few points ahead?
(I contend, though, that because Napoli is in the scudetto race, I can sit and stew over that Serie A table all I want)