Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal all travel to B6 having hosted Aston Villa before the start of the new decade. Villa haven’t fared well against the big clubs over the past decade, and quite a bit has changed since Manchester City and Villa swapped courses of direction in the late 2000s — perhaps it’s time to turn over a new leaf against the so-called ‘big six’. We’ve already claimed that Dean Smith’s side have a chance to beat Spurs; now let’s take a closer look at the top clubs coming to Villa Park before the season ends.
The lousy luck of Aston Villa this season
This season, Villa started their campaign at the brand new, grand spanking Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where for 85 minutes John McGinn’s season opener looked to guarantee Villa at least a point from the game. Then Harry Kane’s quick fire double denied Villa any points, but of course it wasn’t the last time they’d go toe-to-toe with Premier League’s elite.
Following the 3–1 loss to Spurs, Villa picked up four points over the next game. Then it was back to North London, where Villa led Arsenal thanks to McGinn and Wesley. Although Unai Emery’s side were down to ten men before the break, Villa failed to capitalise on their advantage — the 3–2 loss was the third match in a row where they were unable to take points from ten men.
The 3–0 loss to Manchester City followed by a 2–1 loss to Liverpool were agonising experiences, but at least Villa took a a point at Old Trafford at the start of December, Tyrone Mings grabbing his first Premier League goal after Jack Grealish lit up the theatre of dreams. Losing at Chelsea may have been predictable, yet it still hurt given that Frank Lampard’s Blues came back from a draw to win 2–1.
Yet the less said about Manchester City the better. With the League Cup final against Pep Guardiola’s imperious side looming at the start of March, it’s best not to remember the 9–1 deficit held by Villa going into that game.
Performances perhaps haven’t been rewarded with the points they reflect, but that’s the unforgiving nature of Premier League. Villa play seven more games at home before the season ends, four of them against the big six, and another two ties against European chasers Wolves and Sheffield United — Villa Park must be a fortress as the team needs to take at least 12 points from their last 13.
Whilst Leicester City, Wolves and Sheffield United threaten to disrupt the previously nearly indomitable top six this season as we know it, here we focus Villa’s last seven years against the four ‘elite’ clubs that will visit Villa Park before the end of the season.
Surprisingly, in the past ten years, Villa have picked up more points against Arsenal and Chelsea, both of whom enjoyed years of Champions League football during that time, than against Tottenham, who are just getting started.
The Champions League finalists from last season have enjoyed little success since replacing Mauricio Pochettino with José Mourinho; the side were four without a win before beating Norwich and Manchester City, but sitting in sixth place, a European spot is still on the cards for Tottenham. However, Harry Kane and Moussa Sissoko remain sidelined for Spurs. who will be relying on the suspect Serge Aurier to prevent Grealish’s threat on the left flank.
This weekend may mark the best time for Villa to host Tottenham, given their injuries, their record, and the seeming disconnect between the players on the pitch. With just one win against them in twelve years, three points is now a major possibility this weekend.
Villa have taken more points off Chelsea than any other top six side in the past decade, and a home tie to Frank Lampard’s Blues on 14 March will be another chance to put points on the board.
Dean Smith beat Lampard handsomely on three occasions in the Championship last season, when the former England midfielder was in charge of Derby County. The aggregate scoreline of 9–1 demonstrates Smith’s tactical edge over Lamps.
This season, whilst Villa came close at Stamford Bridge, an eventual loss meant that Chelsea has maintained their spot in the top four; however, the Blades are just a win behind, and Wolves are shooting up the table fast. Fingers crossed that in a month, Chelsea will still be in disarray and Villa will be able to grab all three points at home.
Whilst Villa have collected the fewest number of points against Manchester United than they have against any other top six club due to visit Villa Park in the run-in, the current squad means the team represents the likeliest chance of three points.
A 2–2 draw should have left fans glad for a welcome point on the road, but after Grealish’s wonder strike Villa left Old Trafford in December frustrated, having dominated most of the match. Managing a draw in Manchester isn’t the remarkable result it once could have been.
This season, United have won just two more games than Villa (9), and only one in their last five in the Premier League. A home loss to Burnley all but killed their chances of a top four finish, whilst on the road, United have lost three of their last four, with trips to Watford and Arsenal particular disappointments. Hopefully, they won’t pull themselves together before they visit Villa Park.
Villa host Manchester United on the 18th of April, after a game at Anfield.
Like United, Arsenal have stumbled into difficult times since the start of the season. Replacing Unai Emery with Mikel Arteta hasn’t quite brought the instant impact the Gunners expected, but almost everyone else knew it was never going to be a quick fix at the Emirates, where things have been a mess for a few years now.
The Gunners haven’t lost in B6 since 1998, but this mid-table Arsenal are much changed since their times of unbeaten seasons and guaranteed Champions League qualifications. Having tallied fewer wins than Villa this term, Arsenal will be welcomed to Villa Park for the last home game of the season, as they will likely have very little play for themselves.
The game against Tottenham this weekend could be the most important, however: a win could show Villa exactly what they can do, and remind them to keep fighting when the other three clubs come to town.