Setting the Narrative is a weekly look at the coming days in the life of Aston Villa Football Club. Here are your storylines for the week of April 8th.
- Villa had two matches this weekend, but you could be forgiven for confusing them. Both started relatively well, with one of Villa's youngsters grabbing the opening goal (Andreas Weimann's stunner against Stoke City on Monday is of particular interest.) Villa would then cling to their precious one-goal lead going into halftime, with supporters hoping that these would be the three points that finally pulled their beloved club out of the morass at the bottom of the table. Inevitably, through some combination of tired legs, youthful inexperience, and managerial incompetence, Villa would concede the equalizer from a set piece late in the second half and languish in the purgatory of "almost safe."
- Setting aside club loyalties for just a moment, it says quite a lot about the quality of the Premier League that a club as aggressively poor as Aston Villa might somehow avoid relegation. Something makes me think this isn't how meritocracies are supposed to work. Has Randy Lerner read Too Big to Fail or something?
- Some notes for statistically inclined readers: Aston Villa have conceded more goals from set pieces than any other team in the Premier League (h/t Kendrick); Villa have only collected 17 points from 16 home games this season, and only Wigan Athletic have scored less at home than Villa.
- Closing on a positive note: the ever-expanding injury list at the club has allowed for an even greater integration of Villa's academy graduates in the first team. According to Opta Sports (h/t Miguel Delaney), Villa-produced players accounted for 39.6% of total minutes played for the club last weekend, which is good for ninth place across the major European leagues. The only English clubs with a better record were Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers. Despite all of the crap Villa fans have had to stomach this season, seeing names like Weimann and Gardner and Bannan in the teamsheet on a regular basis has been a welcome development, and one worth continuing regardless of which league Aston Villa find themselves in next season.