Aston Villa really need to start winning if they have any chance of avoiding relegation. With Norwich losing today and coming to visit Villa Park over the weekend, a two-match winning streak could have absolutely turned this season on its head. But unfortunately, this is the club that cannot stop shooting itself in the foot, and Villa managed to find a way to lose against West Ham United despite showing exactly what it would take to beat them.
For the first sixteen or so minutes, things were going wonderfully. Villa were putting unexpected pressure on the Hammers and it looked as if, gasp, a goal might be in the offing. And then with Villa having a throw-in, Jordan Ayew decided to swing his right elbow at Aaron Cresswell, who was standing behind him. The elbow did nothing, Cresswell didn't move, and the ref had no issue. Ayew was apparently unhappy with that reaction, so he switched to his left elbow and swung harder this time, and aimed right at Cresswell's face. Well that worked. Cresswell fell to the ground and the ref pulled out a rightful red card and sent Ayew right off.
And Villa lost the momentum. They held on in the first half and went into the tunnel holding even at 0-0. But it was only a matter of time before things got grim. Gabby Agbonlahor was making his first start in seemingly forever, and he was destined to tire. And there were no other strikers to replace him. Already left by himself while Villa played a 4-4-1 to cope with being a man down, Agbonlahor did his best (which wasn't bad!) but couldn't create anything.
And the Villa defense showed a few bright moments, but then reverted to "let's make stupid mistakes" form. The first goal came as Carles Gil and a bunch of other Villans neglected their defensive responsibilities, and while Michail Antonio's 58th-minute shot was nice, it should have never come to that.
Then, just when Villa may have had a chance on a corner in the 85th, they decided to do nothing with it and give the ball right to West Ham. Surprised at their luck, West Ham sprinted down the pitch and buried the ball in the net off of the foot of Cheikhou Kouyaté.
And that was that. A 10-man Villa did what an 11-man Villa looked eager to avoid: lost. Everything went to hell after Ayew acted like a total prat, and it's hard to be angry at anyone but him.
Start planning for the drop, because if safety was in the cards, we needed to win today.