Four points from two games may not be much cause for celebration for most teams but it is for all involved with Aston Villa Football Club, at least by our pathetically low standards these days. We beat Crystal Palace on Tuesday night after a credible performance in which the players appeared genuinely motivated. We then managed to draw with table-topping Leicester City yesterday. Does that mean we are back in with a shout?
An optimist would say there is at least hope. A betting man would say yes. A realist would say probably not. On paper, we are still seven points behind the team in front of us. There is still a big mountain to climb.
However, if we win our next game, which is against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns, we would potentially only be four points from nineteenth place (depending on other results). That doesn’t sound too bad and we are in a much better position now that we have gained some points.
Garde looks to be turning things around. We are scoring goals and the players look like they are actually bothered. Progress comes from gaining points and that is what we are starting to do. If there was no hope before the previous two games, I would say there is a very small glimmer now.
The ultimate test of our players’ resolve will come next week against West Bromwich Albion. That fixture is the closest thing we have in the Premier League to a local derby, meaning it is the perfect chance to see just how much the players care.
Another positive we are seeing is that Garde seems to be experimenting with his team more. It is pleasing to see players like Bunn and Kozák getting a chance, which suggests that we are pressing on towards getting our best starting XI.
Is it too little too late? Slowly but surely, the Villans are starting to look like a team and seem to have been helped by having Lescott as the captain, a change the manager hinted will extend beyond Richards’ absence. After a tough start to his tenure, I am sure that Garde will be pleased to have overseen two positive performances at home in a week in which transfer funds have not been forthcoming. He will hopefully use Tuesday night’s FA Cup third round replay against Wycombe Wanderers as a chance to build momentum because, in theory at least, it’s not yet too late to avoid the dreaded drop and secure our twenty-ninth consecutive year in the top flight.