Through the first half of the season, everybody knew that Aston Villa were a better team away from Villa Park than they were at home. It was one of those strange flukes that kept going and thus began to define the club. After 29 matches, however, it may be time to challenge the conventional wisdom. Villa have now played fifteen matches at home and fourteen away from Villa Park, splitting the season points evenly between the two at 17 apiece. If you figure this to a per-match level, it's 1.13 points per match at home and 1.21 away.
Surprisingly, with the win against Chelsea yesterday, Villa now actually have more wins at home than they do while traveling. The Chelsea win completed their first back-to-back home wins since 2011 and they've seen their home form steadily improving. Take a look at the chart below. You can look at home and away stats, and it shows the number of points gained in each match, the rolling total of points for the season, and the rolling conversion rate in Villa's lat four matches. (Put another way, 12 points are available every 4 matches. If Villa go W-L-L-W in a four-match span, they've converted 50% of the points.) Looking at the rolling total of just four matches puts weight on the most recent performances at that time.
What you notice is a trend of normalization. We expect a club to be better at home than they are on the road, and we're finally seeing that from Aston Villa. It took the club 10 matches to get to 8 points at Villa Park. They've gotten 9 points in the following 5 matches. Currently, they've converted 75% of the available points in their last four matches, thanks to three wins and one loss.
On the road, the club began the season incredibly hot, getting themselves to 12 points in only 7 matches. Most impressive was a streak of five away matches without losing between Norwich City and Southampton. Since then, however, they've only been able to net 5 points in their next 7 matches. In the past four matches, they're only converting 17% of the available points. In that stretch, we had the tough draw to Liverpool and a boring nothing against Cardiff City, interspersed with losses to Everton and Newcastle United.
Perhaps it's time that we started thinking of Aston Villa as a club who play better at home than we've given them credit for. Let's hope they can play out that advantage over the rest of the season, as they've only got four more matches left at Villa Park. The good news is that three of those come against teams in the bottom half of the league, so Villa should be able to get some points.
Let's hope, too, that they can regain their composure on the road. I don't want Villa to be a team who we dread seeing play at Villa Park, but I would love for them to be a team who we can have some confidence in when they travel.
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