Is a look back at Aston Villa’s position and form this time last year cause for concern?
If Villa perform anywhere near as badly as they did last season from here on in - they are going down.It’s as simple as that even at this stage because this time last year, having played teams of a similar quality, Villa were seventh and on 11 points. This season we’re nine places worse off, just two places off relegation and currently only have five points on the board – and, to make matters worse, Reading, who are two points behind us, have a game in hand.
It may be far too earlier to start panicking, but if you delve deeper into the facts, things begin to look even worse.By October 2011, Villa were still undefeated both home and away, having won two and drawn two at Villa Park, along with three draws away from home.
At the moment Villa have failed to win away this season, picking up just one point in three games. Home performances haven’t been much better and other than a solitary win against Swansea – Villa’s only win this season – a draw against West Brom and a defeat against Everton makes for pretty glum reading.
But perhaps the most startling statistic is the goals record.
Under McLeish last year the biggest complaint amongst Villa fans was the lack of creativity and goals. This time last year, however, Villa had scored nine goals in seven games. Fast forward 12 months and we’ve bagged less than a goal per game, totalling six in seven.Add to that the goal difference, which has left our goals average on minus six, having already conceded eight away from home and four at home – compared with the 2011-12 season, where we had only let in five both home and away – perhaps it is time to start panicking?
Maybe the change in fortunes can be put down to the opposition?Unfortunately not even that can explain Villa starting this season so much worse than the last because not during either season had Villa played any of what you’d consider the top four teams – Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal or Chelsea.
Just as last year we’ve still got those to come.Villa have, however, played some of the surprise packages this time round with Everton, Tottenham and West Brom occupying fifth to seventh positions, all of whom have either beaten or drawn with Villa.
Nothing positive can be drawn from the statistics – absolutely nothing – so what can we make of the season so far?
Manager Paul Lambert has made a lot of new signings and it takes time for a team to gel. He’s also got to be given time to get his vision across, to get the team playing his way and to get a settled side both he and the fans are comfortable with.
I truly believe we have yet to see the best from Villa this season and it is only seven games in to the new campaign.The fact we’ve struggled so much so early is worrying but it’s better to do it now than at the end of the season.
Last season every fan was having a heart attack with each game that passed until they knew we were safe because we’d managed to get a better goal difference than Bolton Wanderers.There are 38 games in the Premiership season so with seven games gone we’re less than a fifth of the way through.
Every Villa fan knows we need to improve but with a Fulham team who are very strong at home standing in the way of the team picking up their first three away points of the season, it may be another few games before that happens.Christmas tends to be the time when teams really begin to look over their shoulders so let’s wait until then before we really start to panic.
Plus we’re still in the Capital One Cup and there’s the FA Cup, so it could still turn out to be a good season.
Calling all Aston Villa fans: Do you share James's confidence in Paul Lambert turning the club around? How do you feel after reading this article? Did you forget that McLeish, for all his critics, actually led you to a decent unbeaten run last season? How confident are you of being nowhere near a relegation fight this season? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.
For more Villa articles, click here