Today is a very rare day for us Aston Villa supporters: we have a Sunday we can enjoy. We can watch ‘Match of the Day’ and ‘Goals on Sunday’ over breakfast with relish, rather than skipping the Villa highlights with a sick feeling in our stomachs. Aston Villa Football Club won a Premier League game on a Saturday for the first time since August and we should enjoy it.
In truth, the 2-0 win against a very average Norwich City side wasn’t brilliant. We didn’t play particularly well and we rode our luck at times, but if any team in the league has deserved the rub of the green it’s Aston Villa.
Are we seeing a change of fortunes?
Despite the league standings, I have always believed that Aston Villa isn’t the worst team in this league. Whether there are three teams worse than Aston Villa is another matter, although I think our position is a false reflection of our side.
One of the biggest reasons for our dreadful position is bad luck. Countless poor refereeing decisions, numerous injuries and simply not getting the run of the ball have cost us just as many points as Tim Sherwood’s dodgy tactics.
I don’t believe in karma, although I do think our luck is changing and it could just keep us in the survival hunt longer than many expect.
Reasons for hope
We won a Premier League game by more than one goal for the first time this season and did so with Agbonlahor as our only recognised forward. We defended well, with Okore in particular playing a hero’s role at the back. Winning without playing particularly well is an encouraging habit to get into.
Our next two games are against teams really struggling for form and without much to play for: Liverpool and Stoke City.
The Reds are struggling to adapt to Jürgen Klopp’s way of playing, looking vulnerable at the back and not potent up front. The Potters seem to have completely lost the great form they had been showing and have been easy pickings in recent weeks.
If we can see February out with two more wins (a massive ask, I know, but not unthinkable), we’ll be on twenty-two points and surely alive and kicking in the relegation battle. Our recent league form is still quite good and, had Jordan Ayew’s brain not melted in the seventeenth minute at Upton Park, I think we could have gotten a result against the Hammers too.
The return of Gabby
Gabby Agbonglahor has impressed me in the last two games, putting in shifts that I thought were beyond him. His descent from local hero to fans’ whipping boy has been a real tragedy. I’ll admit I was praying that the rumours of his transfer to Turkey in January were true but the effort he’s shown when called on has surprised many and he could just prove vital in the run-in. He doesn’t score many yet he does have a knack for getting a goal when needed.
Can we do it?
Looking at the league and the obvious deficiencies in our squad, the logical answer is no. In all likelihood, we are still going down but every win will fuel that hope and, if we can just keep chipping away at the gap, you never know. I expect us to be in the Championship next year but I for one will not give up hope until we have the dreaded ‘R’ next to our name.