While they say that there are no easy games in the Premier League, Aston Villa’s last four games in the league posed quite a test and saw one of the harshest run of games that any team will have to face this season.
It all started with the away trip to Anfield, where the Villans masterfully executed the perfect game plan and ended up with three well-deserved points against Liverpool.
Then came the Arsenal game, which was highly unusual as a few players were unable to play because a mysterious bug swept through the team and rendered the players ill. We ended up losing 3-0 to a good Arsenal side. However, with a fully fit squad and confidence to boot, I really do feel we could have had a positive result against Arsenal.
Stamford Bridge was next on the list, where the Blues showed why they’re the bookies’ favourites to win the league. Jose Mourinho’s men made easy work of the game, scoring quickly to set the pace for the rest of the match. Two goals in the second half essentially killed the game off and there was no way back for the Villans after that, I’m afraid. The fans were still upbeat, as it was widely expected we would lose the game. In some cases, that is when Paul Lambert’s men have thrived – playing under no pressure and causing shock results.
The game against Manchester City at the weekend was a bit unusual. During the week, Christian Benteke had returned to action in an under-21 game and even scored from the spot on his return. The Villa talisman got just over an hour of playing time with the under-21s, after a five month absence due to injury. It was this news that was encouraging for the fans, as most of the pre-match build up from various media sources focused on his return. Paul Lambert was quick to tell everyone that he wouldn’t start, which was completely logical. Even though we lost the game, the Villans provided a fairly solid defensive display and were frustrating the Citizens all game. It took a great finish from Yaya Toure, the midfielder who had come in for heavy criticism in recent weeks, to break the deadlock late in the game. Up until that point, it looked like the Villans could have secured a point but, as we sat deeper and deeper, it was inevitable that a City player would break through the resolute defence and open the scoring. Sergio Ageuro then did what he does best and added to City’s lead.
We can finally look forward to the next set of games. We will be playing teams that are in and around us in the league and, although we won’t win every game, we can afford to be more confident about getting positive results. With Christian Benteke back and Ron Vlaar hopefully returning after the international break, we’ll be able to send out a fully fit side and it is a side that I’ve been quietly confident in this season. The next five games see us pitted against:
West Ham (A)
While they’re not easy games, they are certainly ‘easier’ then playing the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal. I hope we find our rhythm again and that the players aren’t too dismayed about recent results. I’m sure Lambert and Keane are telling their players that there’s no shame in losing in the manner we did. Financially, we just can’t compete with the likes of those teams; I’m sure Manchester City’s team cost more then four or five times as much as our squad did, if not more, but we matched them for over eighty minutes.
I’m feeling good about the next couple of games and I can see us picking up more points soon. Onwards and upwards!