It's confirmation bias week here at Villa in Four Numbers! I'm usually the optimist, but here are four numbers that will confirm for you that Villa are every bit as bad as they've seemed in their past two matches. If you think this is depressing, consider the fact that I could have easily made this Villa in Fifteen Numbers and still been entirely negative.
The number of matches this season in which Aston Villa scored first. In those matches, they've gotten three wins. In the remaining thirteen matches, they have two wins, four draws, and seven losses. Put into terms of points, when Villa don't score first, they've taken ten out of thirty-nine available, as opposed to nine of nine when they do. (Note: the thirteen matches in which Villa did not score first include the three 0-0 draws. Take those out and it's seven points out of thirty possible, which is even worse.)
When they can get a lead, the defense has been pretty good about holding it this year. But unfortunately, Aston Villa have been playing most of their matches from behind this season, and it's very hard to consistently win matches when you let that happen. And more and more, the defense should be coming under scrutiny for this problem. Actually...
Villa in Four Numbers
Yellow cards and poor passing are plaguing Villa
Between their poor passing and the bevy of yellow cards they pick up, Aston Villa are hurting themselves so that their opponents don't have to.
Villa in Four Numbers
The number of goals Aston Villa have allowed in the last three matches. And if we're being specific, it's actually seven goals in 222 minutes. Since Ron Vlaar has been out, Villa have been allowing a goal every 32 minutes. Before Vlaar's injury that number was a goal every 87 minutes.
Listen, I understand that Ron Vlaar has been a very very good defender for Aston Villa this year, but no team should collapse so drastically with the loss of one player. It's getting harder and harder to figure out what Villa ought to do in the January transfer window. I still think that help in the midfield should be the highest priority, but if Paul Lambert focused on obtaining some better depth for the back line, I wouldn't complain. The drop in quality from the first-choice four to the next players has proven itself to be drastic. Let's fix that, please.
The number of times Aston Villa have been shut out this season. So yeah, maybe if Paul Lambert got rid of all of the strikers and got new ones that'd be a plan too. (Not really.) I just counted this number up, wrote that first sentence, and only now realized something: Villa have been shut out in FIFTY PERCENT of their matches. Amazingly, they aren't the only to who have failed to score eight times, as Cardiff City, Stoke City, and Crystal Palace have all matched the feat. Even more amazingly, none of those four teams lead the league in matches in which they have failed to score. That dubious honor goes to West Ham with nine times. Good lord. That must be so terrible to watch.
Yes, I'm fudging a bit. These are two numbers, but they're the same basic idea. That's the number of on-pitch minutes without a goal for Christian Benteke and Aston Villa respectively. Given the state of the team's attack, it's not hard to see the latter becoming another drought like we saw earlier in the season.
But the former is just getting terrible to watch. Benteke has no first touch right now, and he's not being fed the ball where he needs it to score. The feeling is almost like watching Darren Bent at the start of the 2011/12 season. You knew he had talent. You knew he could find the back of the net. And yet nothing was going in. Logic has it that Benteke has to snap out of this at some point, but when a slump is as prolonged as this one is, logic doesn't properly operate. I'm pretty sure that he's going to lose his leg sometime soon and never score another goal again.