You could say I'm a Paul Lambert apologist. Actually, I think a lot of people would say that. But maybe I just think that sports aren't fun when you're complaining about everything in sight.
Honestly, I think Lambert hasn't been too far off with his tactical decisions this year — at least as far as maximizing Villa's expected points output is concerned. The run's been tough so far and when Villa have been playing a weaker side, we'll see that they've tried to be positive.
I'm going to keep this short and sweet so here's a claim...
Villa have played 10 matches (of 12) that I'd have taken a point from going in
You might accuse me of having a lack of ambition or not holding the club to the right expectations but let's take a look at this. Of these 10 matches, six are against Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Spurs. Villa have just three points from these fixtures and if not for a poor refereeing decision, they might've had one or three more against Spurs.
Then you've got the other four I'd have "taken a draw" going into — Stoke (A), Newcastle (H), West Ham (A), Southampton (H). Interestingly enough? Villa have 6 really good points from these games. You could probably argue whether or not you'd have taken a point against Newcastle or West Ham but for me, they're a pair of fixtures that didn't set up well for us. Newcastle's still really talented in comparison to Villa and West Ham were playing some really good football. Those were a pair of good points. And arguing that a point at Stoke would've been a good one? You're fairly delusional if you'd have done that.
So, to recap, Villa have played 10 matches that I thought would be really, really tough ones to get something from going in. They have 9 points. That's pretty good.
Villa have been attacking in easier games
This is, above all else, the key going forward, but Villa have played really well and controlled the game in their other two matches, Hull and QPR.
Now, let's start with QPR because someone's jumping up and down getting ready to send me hate mail and I understand that. Fundamentally though, Lambert's side was on the front foot the whole time — and if Villa don't get beat by a stupid, stupid long ball half an hour in, the game probably goes a little differently considering the control Villa had on the game.
And Hull? I don't think you can argue against those first 60 minutes. That was a commanding attacking performance which means...
There's no reason for me to think that Lambert is going to employ negative tactics tomorrow
When Villa have played bad sides — Hull and QPR — they've been quite positive. Burnley are bad. So are Palace, Leicester, and West Brom, Villa's next three games after tomorrow. And I'm expecting to see Villa try and take the game to a bottom side. Granted, it might not work and Lambert's side could get hit on the counterattack but I think he's at least going to try to be positive. And, of course, Christian Benteke is back for that fixture at Palace next weekend.
So far? Yeah, I think Paul Lambert's tactical approaches have come damn close to maximizing Villa's expected points haul.
As for a prediction?
Come mid-January, we'll be talking about Villa's resurgence under Paul Lambert and the positive football they've been playing.