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Drawing conclusions from Villa's draw at West Ham

While Aston Villa got a point at a very in-form West Ham on Saturday, fans can't decide if the win was good or not.

Harry Engels

After Saturday's 0-0 draw at West Ham, I sent something out on the site's twitter feed that got a lot of feedback:

And to be honest, it seemed as if the feedback was pretty evenly split. Plenty of fans (our very own Jack Grimse included) felt that the point was a great result, while plenty of others agreed with me. If there was a tilt, it was towards the happy side (odd to see from Villa fans) but it wasn't by much. In our own comments section, the "a point is good" camp was much more vocal than the "dour draw" side of things.

Now, a little more than 48 hours later and removed from my instant emotions of the match, I'm beginning to see the other side of this a bit more clearly. Given that Aston Villa had lost six straight matches and plummeted from 2nd in the table to 16th, something needed to happen. West Ham came into the match having not lost since September 27 and sitting in the top 5. They looked to be a much better team than the West Ham team of recent years.

So: a match on the road, a clean sheet, a draw, and a point. It's seemingly impossible to argue that the result is bad.

But here I go.

Aston Villa came into the match with 10 points, sitting in 16th, and with a -11 goal differential. They left the match with 11 points, sitting in 16th, and with a -11 goal differential. They're on a one-point-per-match pace that will see them equal last year's total

Coming into the match, it was widely rumoured that Paul Lambert had two matches to turn this thing around. A win would put some separation between the club and the bottom of the table and would be great. It would have also, presumably, bought Lambert some extra time. A loss would leave Aston Villa in 16th, with a slightly lower differential, and with 9 points. But it would have put Lambert one day closer to the chopping block. A draw... well, a draw doesn't do much, but I would presume it buys Lambert some extra time and reinforces (at least to him) that "Hey, this tactic worked!"

So the draw doesn't have hardly any upside, and it's got some downside. Lambert will get the benefit of the doubt after a performance that saw Aston Villa mostly outplayed (were it not for Brad Guzan elevating his game at the right time and West Ham having a nasty case of the Adebayors, Villa would have absolutely lost). This was a match that Aston Villa played exactly like they had in the previous six losses. And yet, positive reinforcement.

Now, this all assumes that the rumours of Lambert's pending demise were true. And given the amount of money it will take to fire him after giving him a four-year contract, they very well may not be true. If there's nothing to those rumours, then yes, we keep with the win>draw>loss hierarchy. But one has to assume that even a disinterested Randy Lerner would have to throw in the towel with Lambert at some point.

But, I'm not so set in this idea that the draw was bad that I can't see the upside. It's a point in another year when the relegation fight will clearly be a bitter one between a lot of teams. It stops the rot. It gives, maybe, a bit of momentum (though of what variety, I'm not sure). What I guess I'm really getting at is that you're free to view the draw as good, bad, or neutral and you'll be right. But don't be fooled by this result. What we saw was absolutely no different than what we've seen since the Liverpool match. Nothing has changed.

Maybe a week off will give everyone the time they need, but there has to be something different after the international break or we're in for more uplifting 0-0 draws.