On Friday, the January transfer window slammed shut with Aston Villa having done no more incoming business than bringing in Grant Holt and Ryan Bertrand on loans. Despite repeated cries for a creative midfielder from anyone who had watched the club this season, none was forthcoming and Aston Villa will have to sally forth into the rest of the season with the club they have on hand now. Do they have what they'll need to make it, or will relegation fears be the hallmark of yet another claret and blue spring? Let's take a look at the remaining fixtures and try to figure out where the club stand.
We've been looking at Aston Villa's corresponding fixtures all season here on 7500 to Holte. For an in-depth explanation, give this post a read. But if you'd like the short version of it here you go: we compare Villa to their results last season. This year's trip to Arsenal was compared to last year's. Based on that, we gauge how the club have been doing.
There are obviously some problems with this system. The teams Aston Villa are playing right now are not the ones they played last year (nor, for that matter, are Villa the same team they were). Nevertheless, it gives us a nice measure of how Villa are doing, and whether or not they'll be able to match last year's point total. Assuming that Aston Villa could match their performances from last season, though, they would end up with 39 points. The remaining fixtures, with their results last season, are as follows:
|at Cardiff City||Draw|
|at Manchester City||Loss|
|at Manchester United||Loss|
|at Crystal Palace||Win|
|at Swansea City||Draw|
Obviously Hull, Crystal Palace, and Cardiff weren't in the league last year but I randomly assigned them to Wigan, Reading, and QPR (respectively). If things break precisely as they did then, Villa will fall just short of the magical 40-point line, which may still be enough to avoid relegation in a year that sees the bottom of the table more crowded than at any other time in recent memory.
But it's tough to see all of those outcomes working out exactly the same. Inevitably, matches that were won will be lost and vice versa. Teams are different. What can we realistically see for the rest of the season? It seems apparent that the next four matches will be vital to determining how Villa's season plays out. All four could conceivably be won, and if that happened by some miracle, it's hard to imagine Villa dropping.
But all four probably won't be won. So what would be acceptable? Cardiff and West Ham should both be wins. From there, snagging a point from either of Norwich and Newcastle would likely be fine. That's 7 points before two trips to Manchester and a visit from Chelsea. It also still leaves Fulham and Crystal Palace to be played, which should be another 6 points. If nothing else broke Villa's way, that would put them at 40 for the season. It would be close, but that would probably be enough to avoid relegation.
And realistically, while Villa are not a wonderful team, it's hard to see them getting only 13 points from their remaining 14 matches. I think a more reasonable guess sees them getting around 16 points.
Villa didn't do much to improve themselves in the window - though the addition of Ryan Bertrand should prove to be a big bump - but the team as it is constructed likely doesn't have too much to worry about. They could certainly play themselves into danger, but even then they would need some "help" from other teams to be in a terrible position. There has been plenty of criticism of the club after the Everton match, and much of it is justified. This is just your reminder not to panic yet. We can save that for later.