Matt Villan returns with another look at Aston Villa's relegation problem. Maybe there is some room for optimism after all!
Not only did we score on Saturday, but we even contrived to come away with a point. Not a bad return at all considering we seemed apparently desperate to get nothing for most of the game.
In all honesty, the defence were utterly woeful. We could’ve been about 5 down within the first ten minutes, but in a bizarre and very welcome twist of fate, the usually malevolent footballing gods were on our side. Chance after chance after chance was spurned by the Saints, before Alan Hutton awoke his inner NFL player and blocked off the defenders to allow Lescott to bundle home an admittedly dodgy corner delivery from Veretout.
Better in the second half, we were unfortunate when the ref decided to not penalise a Southampton defender for falling on top of Ayew when clean through, and our misfortune was doubled up as Romeu equalised following an error from the shaky Sanchez, who’d been dodgy all game with misplaced passes aplenty (although as solid and tough-tackling without the ball as always).
Ayew and Veretout were Villa’s stand-out performers, with Gueye also playing well when on the front foot. The less said about the defence the better, but to be expected when injuries and suspensions have left us with a cobbled together unit comprising of one regular, a not-really-a-right-back playing on the left, a 33 year-old journeyman and a relative youngster playing his first Premier League game since last season.
That result left some fans with a renewed sense of optimism. A post-match snap poll (link here) suggested about half of those polled thought we might actually have a chance at remaining in the league, but is their optimism grounded in reality?
Aston Villa (in case you hadn’t already noticed) are currently footing up the Premier League table, having amassed a phenomenal 6 points from our 15 games. That leaves us on course for a final total of 15(.2) points at 0.4 PPG, a whole 4 points clear of Derby’s all time record of only 11 points. Hurray!
It’s not all bad news though, with the safety mark currently looking like it’ll be something around the 33 point mark (at 0.87 PPG), which would be a record (the current is 34 points for safety). 33 points to stay up would see us needing a further 27 points which is only 9 wins. Furthermore, our average over the last four years is roughly 1 PPG, so this is theoretically within reach.
The question is then, do we have what it takes to essentially double our PPG? The hope would be to just about stay in touch with the pack until January and pray that Randy still cares enough to invest in a few players of quality to help boost morale and kick us into a march up the table.
This writer’s worry though is we may have left it just too late with the sacking of Sherwood and despite all his talk of instilling a winning mentality it was a losing one that he ended up reinforcing. This may unfortunately then cost us, as despite the promising signs of revival beginning to appear, once we start again playing competently, it will be too late for us to be saved.
All said, there are still 23 games to be played and if this season has taught us anything, it’s that pretty much all eventualities are possible, as evidenced by Messrs Vardy, Mahrez and Ranieri’s baffling ascent to the summit of our league table
As always, up the Villa.