Yesterday’s 1-1 draw away to Preston North End marked the end of Aston Villa’s 2018.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a year with an incredible January and an eventual playoff spot. Undoubtedly the lows came in the forms of the playoff final defeat to Fulham and the unfolding saga behind the scenes involving the finances. We also saw Jack Grealish seemingly off to Tottenham Hotspur and new majority owners in the faces of Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens.
Then came the underwhelming start to the season, the end of Steve Bruce’s reign and a cabbage.
As we approach 2019 and the second half of the season, I wanted to look at the figures in detail as I did last year. I wanted to see exactly where we are in relation to last season as well as how other clubs are faring.
Firstly, 12 months ago we had just beaten Middlesbrough with a narrow 1-0 win to give some hope after a dreadful December. We were on 41 points, which is 4 more than we currently have after 25 games. We then went on to win a further 6 games in a row in the league. Looking at the upcoming fixtures, we could conceivably achieve something similar but then again, we are Villa fans, your guess is as good as mine!
Villa are currently on 1.48 points per game for the season. Should they maintain that figure for the 46 league games it would have seen us finish on 68 points based on last season and 11th place. Obviously this includes the poor start under Bruce.
I then wanted to look at how well Leeds United and Norwich City are doing compared to Wolves and Cardiff City last season. It’s fair to say that Wolves were simply far beyond the others but as for Cardiff City, they sat on 47 points. Both Leeds United and Norwich City currently have 51 and 48 points respectively. I did this to try and get some perspective into how teams fared in the second half of the season.
Cardiff finished on 90 points at the end of the season. Based on that figure, Villa would need to achieve 2.33 points per game between now and the end of the current season to match that total.
A bit more perspective to that figure is Leeds United who are currently achieving 2.04 points per game. If Villa could match that figure for the remaining 21 games they would pick up another 43 points which would see us finish on 81 in total. Last season that would have been two points down on our final total but still would’ve seen us finish fourth.
So being honest, it looks like too big an ask to consider automatic promotion unless other teams begin to fall as well as banking on a steep improvement in 2019.
I also decided to look at how teams fared in the second half of last season which may make for slightly easier reading.
On this day last season, Fulham sat on 36 points, two less than we are currently on. They added four players to their team in the January transfer window in Cyrus Christie (RB), Matt Targett (LB), Ragnar Sigurdsson (CB) and Aleksandar Mitrovic (CF).
In their remaining 21 games they won 16, drew 4 and lost only once gaining 52 points at 2.48 points per game.
Villa in contrast went on to win 13, draw 3 and lose 5 gaining 42 points at 2 points per game.
In the January window Villa brought in Axel Tuanzebe and Lewis Grabban.
This season it’s clear that we can score goals and have the philosophy to continue to do so. However simple defensive mistakes have cost us too many points. With the addition of Lovre Kalinic to hopefully strengthen the number one spot, a few clever acquisitions in our other weaker areas, primarily defence, early in the window could see us have a Fulham style second half to the season.
It’s been said many a time but this transfer window really could be the biggest in our recent history, get it right and things might turn out in our favour after all.