Aston Villa obviously had a pretty poor year last year. They finished in 15th place, but only five points above the drop, and weren't sure of their safety until less than a week remained in the season. As fans, we all desperately hope not to see that again. Fluctuation of other teams in the league aside, one of the surest ways to avoid the turmoil of last season would be to improve individual results. That's pretty obvious, right? But it's really tough to look at the team's growth on a week-by-week basis. For instance, by this point last season, Villa hadn't played three matches yet. So do we take a look at where they were after two weeks or three matches?
Then I saw a comment from one of the people over at The Liverpool Offside that got me thinking. What if we compared simply corresponding fixtures? In other words, how have Aston Villa done thus far relative to their performances last year at Arsenal and Chelsea and hosting Liverpool? So I set up a table to figure this out. Take a look:
That's obviously a bit small, so the entire table can be found here. I've listed all of this season's fixtures in order, then placed last season's results next to that. In columns E-G, you've got this season's results. FInally, in columns H-J you'll find the difference between the two years. Green cells are a positive for Villa (more goals scored, fewer allowed, more points), red are negative, and white are neutral. There are cumulative totals at the bottom. For the newly promoted teams, I've randomly assigned them to the three relegated teams for comparison's sake. The concordances are listed below the table.
What I find really interesting is the knowledge that Aston Villa are already doing better than they were last season. We all knew that - despite the letdown yesterday - getting three points out of these three matches wasn't a terrible start to things. Now we can refresh our memories and see that not only was it not bad, but it was a three-point improvement over those three matches last year. Assuming everything else went exactly the same as it did last year, Villa would be sitting on 44 points, which would have been good enough for 11th or 12th (depending on differential).
This is nothing groundbreaking, but I think it will be a great way to look at the season as we go along. Are Villa actually progressing over what they were last year? Thus far, the answer is yes. They've allowed eight fewer goals, scored two more, and gotten three more points from these fixtures than they did in 2012-13.
I'll be updating this after every match, so you can always check the link. If you should ever lose it though, I'll be putting the latest results in every Monday's edition of Kickin' It. Let me know if there is anything else you'd like to see in the table!