Villa fans have been put through the full range of emotions this season. After a 2-0 loss to Newcastle United just under a month ago, we were looking over our shoulders, contemplating the unthinkable – dropping down to the third tier of English football.
Whilst we have never been properly submerged in to a relegation scrap this year, we had picked up just one point in 2017 up to that point.
Four wins out of five later, a positive feeling has returned to the club. Kodjia keeps scoring, we keep winning and, even though no-one is getting carried away just yet, fans are at least looking forward to watching the team again.
I believe that our recent run of form has been long overdue. Players such as Jedinak and Hourihane stand out in this division and they both seem to have settled nicely at the club. With nine games left and seemingly nothing to play for, it would be easy for our players to take their feet off the gas and start thinking about next year.
This, however, could have disastrous consequences. Our fan base is, understandably, demanding results. We currently lie twelfth in the table which, for a club of our magnitude and a team of our quality, isn’t good enough. A strong end to the season will be vital and set us up well for a promotion push next season. An end of year slump will have the opposite effect and bring the boo boys back out at Villa Park.
We have been unlucky with injuries recently but, even with a slighty weakened side, we should be dominating games in this division. Jedinak looks to be the piece of the puzzle that we have been missing for years – a strong man in the centre who dictates the game. Kodjia is making a case to be considered the best striker in the Championship and James Chester is a steady, calming influence at the heart of our defence. Even Alan Hutton, who has received a lot of stick from fans in his time here, looked threatening playing on the right wing against Sheffield Wednesday.
When we have Lansbury, Grealish, Green, Hogan and Bjarnason (to name but a few) back in action our side will be stacked with talent and the competition for places will be fierce. In the meantime, we cannot let up. A good run of results and a derby win will send the fans in to next season with real hope. If we can keep dictating games and getting wins then there’s no reason why we can’t go in to next season as one of the favourites to return to the promised land – and actually deliver.
Up the Villa!