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Friday, 01 March 2013

Can Aston Villa reach the magic 40 points before the end of the season – and will it even be enough?


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Ever since the Premier League was reduced to 20 teams those at the bottom have been aiming for the ‘magic 40-point mark’ – the mark that usually means your team has avoided relegation.

It’s probably more to do with the fact ‘40’ is a nice, round number and easy to add up to, but for what ever reason it’s the number all the struggling teams hope to reach.

The Premier League has maintained 20 sides since the 1995/96 season so it’s worth having a look at what number of points has meant survival. Southampton finished 17th that year with 38 points.

Coventry avoided relegation the following year with 41 – 40 would have seen them relegated – and then it was Everton, on 40 (goal difference saved them); Southampton, 40 (Charlton next best on 36); Bradford, 36; Derby, 42 (Manchester City relegated on 34); Ipswich, 40; Bolton Wanderers, 44 (West Ham even went down with 42).

Paul-Lambert 3Everton survived the 2003/04 season with 39 points; West Brom, 34; Portsmouth, 38; Wigan, 38; Fulham, 36; Hull City, 35; West Ham, 35; Wolves, 40; and Queens Park Rangers, 37.

What that shows is 40 points is usually a realistic target to survive – not always, but the majority of the time, but how many points can Villa achieve this year – and how many of those are realistic?

There are 11 games left, which is 33 points to play for. Villa currently have 24 points, so they need to find another 16 points from those remaining games to reach the magic mark.

Seeing as Villa have only managed 24 points from the first 27 games, it’s really not looking good.

The only thing that will either play into Villa’s favour - or ensure they go down - are the games against the teams in and around the relegation zone. Villa still have to play Reading, QPR, Stoke, Fulham, Sunderland, Norwich and Wigan – that’s seven out of the bottom 11 teams and that’s a possible 21 points.

The chances of Villa winning all those games are slim to none, but there is a chance they can win some of them. And, of course, they are all six-pointers which could either drag those teams back towards the relegation zone or pull Villa clear.

Villa’s other games are against Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea. To get anything from those games would be a miracle, but not impossible. However, even if Villa drew all four games that would be a maximum of four points.

Villa dejectedSo, if Villa won all their games against the lower league teams and salvaged a point against the stronger opponents, they would end up with 25 points, and a final total of 49 – just nine ahead of the magic ‘40’.

With that in mind I think it will be near impossible for Villa to finish on 40 points, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will go down because it’s unlikely three or four other teams will reach that number either.

The other major factor playing against Villa is their horrendous goal difference, which means they will have to finish at least one point clear of their nearest rival.

The question is, how many points will a team need to reach safety?

Last season Wigan made a remarkable run towards the end of the season when most people had written them off – and if they do it again they will stay up and Villa will be relegated.

The more a team hovers around the relegation zone the more likely it is the next season will be one too far. Perhaps it’s Wigan’s turn to go down this time – or perhaps Villa will be made to pay for their stupid mistakes and their lack of confidence.

Whoever goes down it will be a very interesting end to the season – and I think Wigan against Villa on the final day of the campaign will have a lot do with who’s playing Championship football next season.

Article by James Fisher

Calling all Villa fans: What do you think? Can Villa achieve 40 points? What do you think will be the target this season? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.

 

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