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Villa in Four Numbers: Villa actually lost for once

Villa lost 3-0 to Arsenal at the weekend but our weekly look into the numbers game shows that things aren't looking all that bad yet at B6.

Laurence Griffiths

Welcome back to another edition of Villa in Four Numbers! Paul Lambert's team actually lost. Oh no! The humanity! Here are four numbers that should help tell a story... maybe.

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Aston Villa's position in the table. It's simple, sure, but for me it's still the most important thing here. Villa have 10 points already on the board when most of us weren't sure they'd manage 10 in the first 10 games considering the run of fixtures. And while there's still a chance that Villa are shut out of points in the next five, I wouldn't class it as overly important.

But more than anything, this start has allowed Villa to relax a little, gain some confidence, and ensure that Christian Benteke isn't rushed back from injury. When push comes to shove, Villa have a crucial run of 11 matches starting after Spurs where they just play Manchester United from last season's "top seven." If Villa can go into that run on, say, 14 points (that would mean going 1-1-3 in the next five which is a fair expectation), they'd be in a great position to have survival nearly secured by mid-January.

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The number of shots on target Villa have allowed their opponents so far in the campaign. This is still really, really good. As I alluded to last time, the worst offensive output from any team last campaign was West Ham's 3.4 shots on target per match and just once this year have one of Villa's opponents managed that. If opponents aren't getting shots on target, they can't score.

And by and large, Arsenal didn't really bring anything different aside from a clinical nature to their finishing. The Gunners only managed three shots on target and, well, scored three goals. Granted, the ho-hum nature of the match's last 50 minutes surely contributed to this but as things stand, the Villa defense is still keeping teams away from the penalty area. When you've got opponents like Arsenal or Chelsea and City, there will be times where you just can't do much. Arsenal's first goal was a prime example of that and the next two were more good attacking play rather than poor defensive play.

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Shots on target by Villa against Arsenal. Despite the drubbing, there are some positives to be taken from Villa's performance on Saturday. You can choose any metric you'd like but fundamentally, Paul Lambert's team was probably the better one for the first half hour. And of course, as Villa finds out far too often, 30 or even 45 minutes aren't enough to win a football match, that doesn't mean we can't look a bit on the bright side.

VILLA GOT TWO SHOTS ON TARGET! For as anemic as the offensive unit has been, Villa recorded a pair of shots on target Saturday and quite frankly, should've been ahead before the half hour mark. Unfortunately, Ciaran Clark isn't an inch taller but hey, whatever. And as facetious as praising two shots on target is, it's a good gateway to talk about the early stages of the match. Arsenal's first goal was on the counterattack which, as Villa supporters, we can't really complain about. The side was pushing up the pitch and the line was playing high, a marked departure from some of last season's tactics that saw 10 men behind the ball at what seemed like all times.

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Players that have been disciplined more than Villa's most-disciplined player Alan Hutton. This ultimately ends up kind of being a fun one but nevertheless one to take a look at. Villa have for the last couple of years it seems been notoriously associated with getting booked and, well, that seems to have changed a little bit so far this year. Hutton has just a pair of cautions in the book so far while 16 other Premier League players have either seen three yellows this term or seen red.

Villa have treaded the fine line that is strong defending and avoiding discipline fairly well so far this year. If that can continue, it'll allow Lambert to put his best fit defensive unit out there week-in, week-out. And that's massive.