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Saturday, 12 April 2014

Will Aston Villa's away form see them to safety?

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Everyone knows how poor Villa’s home form has been this year and how much of a threat the same side can be away from Villa Park, but perhaps not many people know how truly awful the record has been.

Villa have set a record for the most home defeats in a single season during the current 2013/14 campaign, which hasn’t even finished yet.

The home form has been worrying since Paul Lambert took over as manager but if he doesn’t sort the situation out at Villa Park soon his future at the club will surely be under threat.

Villa have suffered 10 home defeats already this year so even if by some miracle they went on to win their remaining home games they would still have lost more than half.

What is more likely is we’ll end up with the embarrassing record of 12 defeats, two draws and just five wins out of 19 games. 

Villa are pantsThe dilemma is there for everyone to see and how Lambert is going to fix it, if he is given another year to prove he is capable of taking Villa forward, is a huge question.

When Villa fans have no confidence in their side beating either Hull City or Southampton, it’s a real sad sign of the times. 

Of course the knock on effect is season ticket holders will refuse to renew, fans who occasionally come down to Villa Park will save their money and any new fringe fans who could have been swayed towards supporting the biggest club in the Midlands will start looking elsewhere. 

It’s not really even down to the poor record either, it’s how poor, boring, sloppy and laughable the standard of play has been at times. We all still love the club and it’s for that reason some of the performances have been so hard to take. 

There has been absolutely no progress this year and if anything the club has gone backwards.

We may be one point better off now than we were this time last year, but no-one expects us to put together the great run of results we achieved last year, especially without the injured Christian Benteke.

Our one saving grace is our away form and it’s the reason almost every single away ticket for now until the end of the season has been snapped up. 

Villa have always travelled with great numbers, but nowadays it’s also the only time the fans truly believe they will see some decent football and perhaps a win. 

The side is structured for a counter-attacking style and when they don’t have to break a team down, which they are completely incapable of doing, they can play some nice football.

The away record has been played 15, won five, drawn four and lost six, which is still not great but clearly in stark contrast to their appalling home form.

We travel to Crystal Palace today and although the form of both clubs are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum there’s every chance Villa could get a result.

We also have to face Swansea, Man City and Spurs away – the final two away games being our last matches of the season.

Being realistic you’d write off the City and Spurs games, taking any sort of result as a bonus.

Villa set themselves up better away from home but they could also still be severely rolled over, especially if their weak defence concedes a few goals early on.

With the home form the worst in Villa’s history, again you’d take what you can from the remaining two home games, so that leaves Villa looking to Palace and Swansea to secure their Premier League status.

Most football fans believe Villa are safe, but their own supporters do not. Thirty-four points should be enough, but when you’re realistically hoping for results against two other clubs that are also fighting for their lives at the bottom you really are walking a tight-rope.

One more win should do it but perhaps the more realistic way Villa will achieve those three points during this bore of a season would be to the steal them with three draws.

Season ticket holders have been getting letters through the post in recent weeks about renewing for the next campaign. I’ll probably go through the motions but I know a lot of people who will not – and after seeing 10 home defeats already this year who could blame them?

Something drastic needs to be done over the summer if Villa aren’t to become another team that just survives each season before eventually being relegated because that’s the only way the club is going at the moment. 

I thought something in the region of 45 to 48 points could be achieved following the back-to-back wins against Norwich and Chelsea less than a month ago, when we were on 34 points.

It’s amazing how much can change in a few weeks, other than Villa’s points total, and it would be a minor miracle if they reached those targets now. 

You never know but rather than looking up the table Villa will continue to look nervously over their shoulders until they get those vital three points. 

Plus it would be nice if both Fulham and Palace didn’t end up doing the double over us in the same season.

Article by James Fisher

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Colin Illingworth



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