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Sunday, 23 March 2014

Aston Villa: What's there points target now?


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Two wins on the bounce and suddenly things have really turned round down at Aston Villa.

It’s important no-one gets too carried away but a win’s a win - and a win at Villa Park has been like gold dust over the last couple of years.

To beat Chelsea, regardless of how much influence the referee may or may not have had, has to be praised. The fact Villa secured two home wins on the bounce had to be seen to be believed.

Villa’s previous four results had been a 2-1 defeat to Everton, a 2-0 home defeat to West Ham, and draw at Cardiff and another defeat at Newcastle.

The alarm bells were more than just ringing when Villa went a goal behind against Norwich the following match because the fans truly believed the team was on its way into the relegation zone. There was no movement, the defence was fragile, the midfield was clueless and the forwards were not interested. Twenty minutes in to the game and suddenly Villa’s whole season seemed to turn around, all thanks to a bit of Benteke magic. The same side that looked so disillusioned just minutes before went on to score four first half goals.

DelphThe confidence obviously lasted for the Chelsea game and this time it was Villa’s other special player, Fabian Delph, who inspired the victory.

Bearing in mind how well Villa finished last season, the question now is what’s the best this Villa side could aim for?

When Norwich visited Villa Park the fans were genuinely concerned a defeat would lead to relegation. Stoke, who are in a very similar position to Villa – reasonably safe but not quite there yet – are next this afternoon and this time it feels most fans believe we will win.

After that it will be Man United away, Fulham at home, again a very winnable game, followed by Crystal Palace away, Southampton at home, Swansea away, Hull at home, Man City away and Tottenham away.

When looking at those games, including Stoke today, you could break it down to two teams that are really fighting for their lives, three teams still looking over their shoulders, one team challenging for the title and three hoping to qualify for Europe.

During this strange but very enjoyable season it looks like there could be two-thirds of the league still fighting for something on the final day.

How will Villa fit in to that? Looking at those fixtures you couldn’t really say it’s a tough run-in. Of course there will be some extremely tough games, possibly all of them, but there are certainly points to be picked up.

A lot will depend on the form of Benteke, Gabby Agbonlahor, Ron Vlaar and Delph. If they can keep their form we could beat anyone of those teams.

If a couple of them pick up injuries it could be a long wait until the end of the season but, if we remain positive for as long as possible, Villa should be at least 11 to 14 points better off, which would leave us on something between 45 and 48 points.

That might not sound a lot but looking at how tight the bottom half of the table remains – pretty much everyone below Newcastle – that could easily secure us 11th or even 10th place.

Most fans realistically thought a mid-table finish this year would be decent end of season position and a sign of progress.

Despite how gloomy sections of this season have appeared there is a good chance Villa could finish this season on a high note. In turn that could make such a difference to how next season pans out.

There’s still plenty to get stuck into before the 2013-2014 season peters out but if Villa can finish as high as possible it could attract new players, add a bit of financial clout for summer signings and more importantly give the side a solid platform to build on.

Villa finished ninth under Gerard Houllier having skirted with relegation for much of the season, but the feeling around the club was one of positivity, of the team again moving in the right direction despite losing many of their best players.

Unfortunately, as we all know, Houllier’s health problems put the club on the back foot again and we have never really recovered since. Houllier wasn’t the saviour but he had a clear plan. 

Lambert has had to strip the team and start again since his arrival but some of his signings have been more than questionable. Most have been squad players at best but now he has a bigger squad he can pick and choose his signings this summer, going for quality rather than quantity.

If Villa end this season poorly they are not going to attract many good players. If they finish well, it really could prove to be a big turning point.

Article by James Fisher

Calling all Villa fans: How many points do you think you can pick up? Will you have another strong finish to the season? What areas of the pitch would you like to see Lambert strengthen in the summer? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.

 

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