This Saturday, Tim Sherwood's Aston Villa travel to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace in a clash between two sides that should comfortably finish in mid table. The circumstances surrounding last season's clash between the two however, could not have been any different. So sit back and relax as we take a trip down recent memory lane, but please, don't look back in anger!
The last time we met
Aston Villa last faced Crystal Palace on January 1st, 2015 at Villa Park, and what a start to the new year it was. Who am I kidding? The sides played out a dismal 0-0 draw in a game that was particularly dismal in a dreadful season. The most telling statistic from the game is that although Brad Guzan didn't have to make a single save, Crystal Palace still came the closest to scoring. That's how bad it was.
From an Aston Villa perspective, these were few positives. The game was played on New Year's Day, so the lucky ones were too hungover to care about the result. Alan Hutton recorded a shot on target, so I guess that counts as a positive too. And that concludes the positives from the game. No really, those were the only positives.
What happened next?
The point secured for Villa that day was the last that they won until March 3rd, when Tim Sherwood's side beat West Brom 2-1. SEVEN straight league losses followed the draw with Palace, and at some point during that run Paul Lambert was sacked and replaced with our lord and saviour Tim Sherwood. So really, the last time Aston Villa played Palace was the last meaningful contribution Paul Lambert made to the club.
And no Paul, bitching about the club to Richard Keys doesn't count as a meaningful contribution.
It was all change at Palace too after the game, with Alan Pardew taking the reins from caretaker manager Keith Millen the following day. Say what you want about Alan Pardew
ahem, but seriously, Alan Pardew brought perennial relegation candidates Palace safely into mid table mediocrity. That doesn't sound too much like a good thing, but mid table mediocrity has a kind of security about it, and security is something that Villa desperately need these days.
For Aston Villa's it's obvious. 12 senior players have departed the club, and 10 new players have joined. With the exception of Brad Guzan, it is entirely possible that Villa will feature a completely different eleven to the side that played in January (although Gabby, Alan Hutton, Leandro Bacuna and Carlos Sanchez could all feature). This makes Villa a completely different team to the one in January, and this brings about a completely different style of play. This suggests that the game should be more exciting than the last time the two sides met. Although it could hardly be less exciting to be fair.
Crystal Palace haven't made any radical changes since the last time we met them, though they did release the man, the myth, the legend that is Shola Ameobi, a true Premier League great. Aside from that, they still have the same mediocre defence, the same average wingers, and the same reasonably decent strikeforce. With just one exception.
Yeah, Palace somehow signed Yohan Cabaye, who is far and away their best player. Cabaye and his good looks aside, Villa are in a much better place to beat Palace this time around.
A lot has changed since the last time we met Crystal Palace, but I think we can do one better than the 0-0 draw last time. Even if we don't, we can all rest well knowing that it can't be nearly as boring as the last fixture was.