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My kingdom for a goal: Villa could be ahead of Everton with paltry effort

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Thinking about Aston Villa as they currently are is a largely frustrating experience. Yes, the Chelsea match was a vast improvement, but it was an outlier in a season of bad. I was contemplating doing a way-too-early relegation post handicapping the contenders for the drop, but at this point there are too many moving parts to make it worthwhile.

Well, actually, that's not quite honest. It's doable, and could have been informative. But I kept running into one issue. It's crazy to assume that Aston Villa get zero points for the rest of the season, and yet I don't feel comfortable assuming points in any matches that remain. We've seen, too many times this season, Villa drop points that should be guaranteed. So look at that schedule and tell me where I can assume a draw or win. Now do that with confidence. So the relegation handicapping post will wait a bit until we figure out if this weekend against Chelsea was yet another fluke or the new norm.

In the meantime, while looking at the table and the results/fixtures list, I started wondering: what if Aston Villa had been below-average rather than totally bad. In 480 matches played in the Premier League this season (actually 240, but let's count each team as one match) there have been 617 goals scored. That's an average of 1.285 goals per match per team. (Oddly, if you take Villa out of the math, it rises to 1.327. That means that Villa depreciate the goals scored per team per match in the Premier League by more than 3%.)

So below average (by a pretty wide margin) would be one goal per match. That's obviously far better than the current .5 per match that Villa are doing, but not good by any means. And yet, thanks to a much-improved defense this year, if Aston Villa had scored exactly one goal per match in every match this season (and nothing else changed), they'd be at 29 points. If you account for the point changes this would mean for other teams, that would leave Aston Villa 12th, behind Newcastle only thanks to goal difference. This even includes situations in which a win that actually happened would be turned into a draw.

What's the takeaway here? Well, not much. Obviously every match would have played out differently had Villa not been shut out fourteen times. And we'd likely have seen everything be different. But it is a nice reminder of just how incomprehensibly bad this offense has been. One goal per match would be bad, but it would leave Villa in a very nice spot. The lack of goalscoring hasn't been bad. It's been terrible.