It seems odd to suggest that this weekend’s clash against Sunderland is a crucial one, as it will be only the fourth match of the season.
However, I do think it carries a lot of importance.
It could potentially give us an indication as to what kind of season we can look forward to this year.
The corresponding fixture last season produced an incredibly dull 0-0 so, first things first, let’s do better than that. That result summed up our performances on the whole last year, at least until Sherwood took the reins. We were dull, clueless and boring.
The good thing is that, with the total overhaul of the squad this summer, we have a team that is less likely to produce dull results, as the Notts County match suggested.
While goals have not been flowing in the Premier League yet, there have been glimpes of good things to come, which is more than can be said for last season.
So, why am I placing such importance on the Sunderland result?
Firstly, the Black Cats have had an appalling start to the season and this game offers us a great chance to get back to winning ways in the Premier League after two frustrating defeats. Aston Villa for far too long has been the team others want to play when they are struggling and in need of a win. Advocaat’s men will see the match as a chance to win and compose themselves – and we cannot allow this to happen. If we do, we could be in for a long season. We do not want another year when we only secure safety one or two weeks before the end of the season. Making sure we reach forty points as soon as possible should be the aim and another three points this weekend would be great help.
Unfortunately, one of the first things I do at the start of the season is try to work out which teams in the League are worse than us and, by that reasoning, which teams we should be beating. A.F.C. Bournemouth is one and we got three points against the Cherries. Sunderland is another so we must win. This is the most pragmatic way of distancing ourselves from the drop zone.
In recent years, it has been results against Sunderland that have put my mind at ease about staying up. An emphatic 6-1 a couple of years ago and last season’s 4-0 away win helped the Villans to avoid the drop. The results managed to more or less convince me that we would survive.
I genuinely think we are better off this season already and that the threat of relegation won’t be as big a consideration as it has been previously but a solid performance against Sunderland this weekend will help cement those thoughts of safety in my mind.
It’s a big game this weekend. We must win to get back to winning ways, to build up momentum and to show that we have more about us this year and won’t roll over when we play a team that wants or needs the points more.
Come on, boys! UTV!