With the Villans currently unbeaten, it adds an edge to the next five big games against Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton. For Paul Lambert’s men it is no man’s land.
Having to deal with formidable ability and pace in the next five games could really make or break Paul Lambert’s Villa career: he can either rise to the challenge and restore a tarnished reputation or just stain it further as his new-look defence locks horns with the financial titans of the Premier League.
First, the Villans take on a Liverpool side that finished second last season, which is quite an achievement for a team that looked doomed two years previously. Brendan Rodgers has built an identity at Liverpool, using a detailed dossier. Maybe Paul Lambert has the same idea.
The Arsenal fixture is one that has become more fruitful over time. A win on the opening day of last season gave us three important points. In the return fixture last season, Lambert’s side was defeated, thanks to two quick-fire goals by Giroud and Wilshire. Thankfully, this season our defence is much more secure.
Against Chelsea last season the Villans had two tales to tell. We all enjoyed the memorable 1-0 victory at Villa Park in March after enduring a more forgettable affair in August, when the Villans were unlucky to lose 2-1 and were denied a blatant penalty.
Last season we shipped six goals against Manchester City, beating City in a famous 3-2 victory in late September before being hammered in May when Lambert’s Lions lost 4-0.
Finally, we have Everton. Once upon a time, Everton was a club that we could match man for man but not any more. The most played Premier League fixture was once a game Villa fans believed we could, and would, win but that belief has wavered. Aston Villa lost 2-0 to the Toffees in late October. In February, Villa lost to Martinez’s men again – 2-1 – during a horrid, barren patch for Villa.
Aston Villa Football Club has a new approach when it comes to the league this season: experienced bodies pack out a strong defence – a strong defence that must hold strong in the coming weeks. Balotelli, who is Villa’s nemesis, is back for Liverpool but Sturridge looks set to miss the game through injury, much to Villa fans’ delight. Despite this, the Liverpool side we will face is strong and powerful. Liverpool Football Club is still a real title contender. No fan can realistically see Rodgers resting his stars for a mid-week game against Ludogrets, the weakest side in Liverpool’s Champions League group. So the Villans head into no man’s land. Nobody knows what to expect. Liverpool’s defence is strong and in attack the reds are purposeful. The Villa defence seems to be solid but the players have not seemed particularly purposeful in attack so far. Nobody knows if this will be a stalemate or an entertaining encounter.
What Villa fans can grasp is that the next five games could be a long slog or a walk in the park. A victory or two would improve Lambert’s reputation and change everything, especially with more comfortable fixtures following the Everton one. Starting away to Liverpool this Saturday, the war really begins. Can the floodgates remain closed ? Can the attack come up trumps? Time is of the essence and the Villans need to gather points.