A third win. Savour that feeling, that warm glow of success, that knowledge that you can swagger into work tomorrow and smile when someone inevitably mentions the football. It's a lovely place to be. That win puts us up to a staggering 16 points! Mental! Unfortunately, 16 after 25 games has led to comparisons with Leicester, who were on a measly 19 after 29 last season, but is it really right to compare us to that Leicester team?
Take first, the performance that won us the points. We were playing a badly out of sorts Norwich side, four losses in the last five and a side which hasn't kept a clean sheet away all season - hardly formidable opposition! We also afforded them at least two clear cut chances, one from a Gana misplaced pass and another from that mess near the end. Gabby's goal was fortunate, Rudd should never have come out and we continue to miss good chances (see Gabby's early on and Bacuna later). Make no odds about it, we were lucky.
Take second, the teams about us. Sunderland, our nearest rivals for the coveted wooden spoon snatched a point at the death (admittedly thanks to some rather suspect goalkeeping from Mignolet). Swansea's revival continued with a solid point at the liberty to Palace (the first point of 2016 for the visitors) and Newcastle's winter splurge is beginning to pay dividends, as a Mitrovic goal grabbed the points from a goal-shy West Brom. Bournemouth remain unpredictable and despite being soundly beaten by Arsenal, the southerners will always be a wild-card.In fact, the only one of our rivals struggling at the moment is Norwich, and we duly beat them.
Take third, our own form. In the last five games, we've garnered 8 points, and our only loss was arguably down to a rash decision to throw the game away by Jordan Ayew. Good, solid form, but that's all it is. It's mid table form, and given where we are realistically we need champions league form. Look at the squad we've got, the mentality they have, the passion and the class- do they really look capable of that sort of performance week in week out?
When Leicester's "miracle" came last year it didn't come about due to divine intervention, not at all. They had all the hallmarks of an underperforming side waiting to come good. Regularly they'd lose by just a goal and rarely would they go without scoring- early on you could say the same about us but now when we do lose it's a pretty pallid performance- see the two consecutive losses to Norwich and Sunderland. Had those not been such dire performances perhaps this article would have a very different tone, but alas, they were not.
Further, Leicester's current showings reinforce that point- obviously Ranieri has come in and changed things somewhat and the likes of Kante and Okazaki weren't there but generally the team is the same, and it is clearly of higher class than credit for which was given.
Another regularly forgotten point is that by the time Leicester got to the Premier League, Pearson knew his squad inside-out, having spent the last 3 years with them. Garde nowhere near scratches the surface of that depth of knowledge, something that can only have helped Pearson coax Leicester into producing the form they were really capable of.
In short, talk of Villa avoiding the drop is fanciful to say the least. In reality the objective from here on out is to rekindle a bit of pride for the fans, show a bit of fight and lay the foundations for the long and hard struggle for promotion next season. All said, if any omnipotent metaphysical beings with a penchant for interfering in human affairs do find themselves reading this, your support would be greatly appreciated.
Up the Villa!
Editors Note - This piece was written onto fine paper by the 'well respected' Villa blogger , Matt Villan - give him a follow @dvtavfc