It's been an interesting start to the season for Aston Villa; given the quality of opposition they've faced, 10 points from 8 games isn't an especially poor record by any stretch. Villa have done as well or better than expected from their three games against less than sterling opposition. and they've picked up an unexpected win against a team to which they were a heavy underdog. Given the injuries they've had, it's hard to see any of that as disappointing.
And yet, it's similarly hard to feel very good about things either. Following the stunning smash-and-grab at Anfield that left Villa with 8 points from their first 4 and a spot near the top of the table, it's been 4 straight losses by a combined 11-0. Yes, those losses have come against some of the best teams in the league, but a stretch like that is never going to be particularly confidence inspiring. What's more, Villa haven't shown much of anything over these past 4; you can lose heavily and still come out with reasons to feel positive, but that hasn't happened. Villa have largely rolled over and played dead, and while that's not necessarily unexpected or damaging in isolation, seeing it happen over an extended period of time is concerning.
But from a purely results-based standpoint, things have gone okay so far. And ultimately, anything Villa get from matches against teams near the top is a bonus. If Villa are going to take a step forward and avoid another protracted relegation battle this season, it's games like this one that are going to get them there. QPR currently reside at the bottom of the table, and though they've faced a fairly difficult road in their own right and aren't likely to spend the entire season dead last, this is clearly a winnable game for Villa, and at the very least one from which they should expect to take a point.
Right now-as it has been for quite some time-Villa's biggest problem is an inability to both create and finish chances. It seems as though facing off against a QPR side that's surrendered 18 goals in 8 games would be just what the doctor ordered. And with another brutal stretch of games coming hot on the heels of this one, they'd certainly better hope so. It's unfortunate that so many difficult games have been crammed together in such a short window, but that's the reality. Villa desperately need to get points where they can, and this is a situation in which we'd all better hope that they can. Because otherwise, this season might be a lot longer than it seemed back in September, just after the final whistle at Anfield.