Survival down to home comforts?

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Aston Villa’s latest defeat at the hands of fellow strugglers Bournemouth has dealt a major blow to survival chances.

Whilst the league is far from over, the result sees Bournemouth leapfrog Villa and only fortunate results in the guise of West Ham losing a 3-1 lead and Watford a 2-0 lead, mean that Dean Smith’s men sit one place above the relegation zone.

Recent positivity in the face of wins at home to Watford in the league and Leicester in the cup felt a long time ago when the final whistle marked yet another away defeat yesterday.

Despite the recent 6-1 hammering at the hands of Manchester City, Villa Park has been the key to most of Villa’s success this season.

68% of the 25 points gained have been at Villa Park. Five wins, two draws and five defeats have subsequently seen the Villans pick up 17 points at home.

A look at the home league table and that puts Villa 14th on goal difference but tied tenth in regard to points.

The away form couldn’t be much more of a contrast with only two wins, two draws and nine defeats which see Villa’s record only worsened by bottom of the table Norwich.

The debate over how many points will be needed for survival continues but the remaining home games are crucial to what league Villa will be playing in next season.

Home fixtures remaining (with corresponding away records)

Tottenham Hotspur – Won 2, Drew 5, Lost 5 – 11 points
Sheffield United – Won 4, Drew 7, Lost 2 – 19 points
Chelsea – Won 7, Drew 2, Lost 4 – 23 points
Wolves – Won 4, Drew 6, Lost 3 – 18 points
Manchester United – Won 3, Drew 3, Lost 6 – 12 points
Crystal Palace – Won 3, Drew 5, Lost 4 – 14 points
Arsenal – Won 2, Drew 8, Lost 3 – 14 points

As if the home games were not already important enough, only Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United are lower in the away league table than at home.

Also against the seven sides left to play, bear in mind only one point was gained by Villa in the reverse fixtures (2-2 at Manchester United). It clearly highlights the magnitude of Villa’s task at home.

Away fixtures remaining (with corresponding home records)

Southampton – Won 3, Drew 2, Lost 7 – 11 points
Leicester City – Won 8, Drew 3, Lost 2 – 27 points
Newcastle United – Won 5, Drew 5, Lost 3 – 20 points
Liverpool – Won 13, Drew 0, Lost 0 – 39 points
Everton – Won 6, Drew 3, Lost 3 – 21 points
West Ham United – Won 3, Drew 3, Lost 7 – 12 points

Whilst away points have been hard to come by, the key games have to be Southampton and West Ham who sit 20th and 18th respectively in the home form table.

Outlook and prediction

Looking at the remaining games it’s going to be one huge ask as it’s so tight down near the foot of the table.

Norwich City look like the only team cut adrift and then its two other teams from a handful for survival.

Along with ourselves, Watford, Brighton and Bournemouth are all separated by a range of only three points.

I have a feeling Bournemouth will survive as back to back home wins have coincided with several key players returning from injury at the right time.

Watford, despite losses to ourselves and late on against Everton have a grit and determination about them. They also have Norwich City, Burnley, West Ham United and Brighton and Hove Albion left to play.

My gut instinct is that aside from Norwich City, I fancy Brighton and Hove Albion to go as I’ve said for some time that they have looked poor for a while despite good draws against Manchester City, Chelsea and Wolves. They have won only once in their last ten league games picking up 8/30 points.

Having said that they have Watford, Norwich City and Burnley left to play, all sides around them and this could be their saving grace.

This is also my main concern in regards to ourselves as four of our seven wins have come against teams currently in the bottom six and out of those sides, we only have West Ham United left to play on the final day of the season.

Even more worrying is the fact that Villa haven’t won against any of the sides in the top eight and seven of the remaining games are against these sides. In fact, this season in the nine games we have played so far against the current top eight, we have drawn once and lost the other eight.

If we go with my prediction of Norwich City and Brighton and Hove Albion, it’s then going to be ourselves or if you base it on tough run ins, West Ham United.

Since the arrival of David Moyes, the feel good factor of a 4-0 win over a depleted Bournemouth side has quickly wavered. That was also their only win in their last eight league games with five defeats too.

There has been tension off the field aimed at the owners yet again and most phone ins consist of angry, frustrated fans with an apparent air of acceptability that this could be their time.

West Ham’s remaining fixtures are similar to Villa’s with eight of their opponents being the same as ours and then if that wasn’t enough I reiterate the final game of the season.

West Ham United vs Aston Villa

Strap yourselves in and however hard it seems, get behind the team, give it your all and believe it can be done. Up the Villa.

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