Last Saturday was acclaimed by even the most optimistic Villa fan as a "must win". Facing 19th place Sunderland, it appeared to be a true battle of character and perhaps Villa's last opportunity to realistically seize victory and begin a positive run.
While Villa lost in extremely disappointing fashion, there may be a saving grace. Suppose Villa had won versus Sunderland - would anybody realistically demand, or even hope for a win against Premier League darling Crystal Palace? In all likelihood, probably not. Palace are a sly team and have played Villa very tough recently, and with the season they are having, the optimists amongst us would admit that we are unlikely to take even a point from this match. But for one reason or another, even if we had won at Sunderland, this match would not have been labeled "must win". Instead, it would be just another match where we hope for the best, but expect the worst.
If we would have beaten Sunderland and fallen to Crystal Palace, our momentum would have been broken only one game into a run. It would send the message to the players that we have the quality to beat the second-worst team in the division, but we still aren't anywhere near having the quality to beat a top-half team. That's not the type of mindset or morale that can lead this team to where it needs to go. But, suppose we lost to Sunderland and instead beat Crystal Palace?
Our momentum would be uninterrupted. We would have our first impressive victory of the season. We would shock the Premier League world as everybody's favorite manager Alan Pardew was left bewildered after a Villa display unlike anything seen previously from Remi Garde's men. We would be on exactly the same point total come Wednesday morning should we have beaten Sunderland and fallen to Crystal Palace. There would still be hope if we had beaten Sunderland and then lost to Crystal Palace, but I believe that losing to Sunderland and instead beating Crystal Palace presents numerous more benefits to the squad and our survival fight as a whole. This opportunity faces us tonight.
What do you think? Let us know!
P.S. A match against Leicester City follows the Crystal Palace game. Wouldn't poetic justice dictate that Leicester, last season's miracle workers, might lend a hand towards us as we try to replicate their remarkable feat? We will see.