Aston Villa are in a pretty poor position.
I don’t think you need to look at the league table to know that. The Villans have just six points from 16 Premier League matches and haven’t won in the top flight since August 8.
I used to think you had to try to go 15 matches without a win. Holy hell.
But quite frankly, what Villa are doing may not be the most of their worries — because everyone else in the league seems to be picking up points too.
Just look at this week’s opponents Newcastle United, who have notched wins over Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in their last two outings. Or AFC Bournemouth, who boast successive victories over Chelsea and Manchester United.
Take those four results out — and replace them with draws or losses for the underdogs — and Villa’s survival target would be six points away, not eight. Obviously, that’s not a particularly big gap in the short-term, but it underlies a significant thing that’s happening.
The Premier League is crazy this season. For where Villa are, that’s not good.
Take a look at Watford, who now sit 19 points ahead of the Claret and Blues in the league table. I don’t think the Hornets are really that much more talented than Villa, if they are at all, but no matter what happens the rest of the year, Watford’s staying above Villa in the league table.
Or there’s Stoke City, who after their own slow start have picked up the pace, sitting on 23 points. Villa ain’t catching them. Begrudgingly too, the same thing has to be admitted about West Bromwich Albion, a side I refuse to believe has more talent than this Villa side. But they’re 14 points ahead of their Midlands rivals right now. That’s not a gap Rémi Garde can make up, even in a miracle.
Garde has to run down three of them. And mind you, even two successive wins could only move Villa level with one of them.
Detached from what’s best for Villa, it’s been fun watching Eddie Howe work his magic on the South Coast or seeing Chelsea struggle in an absolutely hilarious way that has them kinda, but not really, engaged in a relegation battle. It’s been neat to see Liverpool and Spurs fall the last two weeks, because those are always glorious occasions that mount great meltdowns.
Granted, Villa aren’t getting out of this mess without a minor miracle in their own matches. But a restoration of order and serenity to England’s top flight would be much needed for our sakes.
So this week, we root for Manchester United and West Ham United. Chelsea and West Brom (ugh), too.
Because even a Villa win against Newcastle would mean less if we can’t get the other results we need.
P.S.: To be fair, if Villa just want to lose the next four matches so I finally give up on survival hopes, that’d be cool too. Because I really, really, really want to root for Bournemouth. I might be in love with Eddie Howe.