Let me begin this by saying I didn't get to watch, nor have I yet watched, the match yesterday. So this is a reaction based entirely on game reports and a scoreline that blew my mind. I spent the weekend having an honest-to-God vacation in New York City, and I figured that with my girlfriend along soccer was out of the equation. I was a bit sad to miss the season's penultimate match, but then I realized that Aston Villa were all but safe, and Arsenal were likely going to crush us. Suddenly, it didn't seem so bad to miss the match.
But as I sat at Penn Station yesterday, waiting to catch a train back to DC, I pulled out my phone and said "Why not check the score?" I used the ESPN App and saw that we had won 2-1. Now, you might expect someone who sees this to be ecstatic. But I figured ESPN was wrong. They've gotten scores incorrect before, so why not this time? My next stop, in the quest to confirm the unbelievable, was here. When it became apparent that we actually had won, I let out a pretty loud whoop of joy. After she got done shushing me, my girlfriend asked what the hullabaloo was all about. I told her that Aston Villa had won. Now, it's worth pointing out that she neither follows nor knows much of anything about soccer. She had tried taking an interest this weekend though and asked who they were playing.
So when I told her that Aston Villa had beaten Arsenal 2-1, she laughed. "No they didn't. Aston Villa can't beat Arsenal!" I eventually convinced her of the truth, but what does it say that she was so dubious? It says that this win was incredible, in the most literal sense of that word. That the two goals were scored by Darren Bent makes sense. That Villa held a two-goal lead until very late in the game while being absolutely dominated in possession? That boggles my mind.
Like I said, I still haven't watched the match. And honestly, I'm not sure I want to. I would rather live with that feeling of absolute incredulity that accompanied looking at my phone yesterday. Villa have the chance to end the season with six points and the team doing significantly better in the final month of the season than ever before. When all is said and done, we may have gotten fourteen points out of our last seven matches. If we had kept up that pace for the whole season, we'd end in second place. That's what this team could have been, and a win next weekend means we get to go into the summer thinking about what this team could become. Suddenly it doesn't feel so bad to be a Villan.