What a rollercoaster of a year it has been for Aston Villa. It was only a few months ago that we were fighting for our lives in a relegation battle, but now we find ourselves 5th in the Premier League with 2 games in hand over many sides. My highlight of 2020 comes in the form of our away form and how it has improved.
Last season we won just 2 away games in the whole campaign, with the victories coming at Norwich and Burnley. This season, we equalled that after only playing 2 away games at Fulham and Leicester and since then we have gone out to win five of our seven games on the road (losing just one).
This drastic change in away form has undoubtedly been the most important factor in our excellent start to the season. This time a year ago we couldn’t have brought an away win, only gaining points in 7 out of 19 matches on our travels (2 wins 5 draws).
We no longer roll over and let an opposition come at us and attack. Our defence has been solid so far, with the addition of Matty Cash at right-back and excellent performances from Matt Targett and Ezri Konsa week in week out, teams are finding it more difficult to break us down.
Our clean sheet record is one of the best in the league, having kept 8 in only 14 games. We only managed 7 over the entirety of last season. In away matches, we have kept a clean sheet in every single game we have won, only conceding 3 goals in 7 games. We owe a lot to Emi Martinez for this, who has been nothing short of outstanding after joining us in the summer. He is what we have needed for a while now, a keeper who is dominant in the air and isn’t afraid to release the ball quickly and set us on a counter-attack.
We also score a lot more goals on the road than we did last time out, in the 7 games we have played away from home, we have racked up an impressive 13 goals, which gives us an away goal difference of +10. After 7 away games last season, we had only won 1 and our goal difference was -4. The difference is incredible.
After 14 games last season, we had 15 points – which isn’t actually too bad. If you compare this to our 26 points this season, you can really tell how much we have evolved as a team.
Aston Villa are currently averaging 1.92 points per game, and if we can maintain this average throughout the rest of the season – we could end up on 73 points. Last season, 73 points would’ve left us 3rd in the table. I am not for one minute saying we are going to get a champions league spot, but we can all dream.