Seven weeks ago I published an article discussing my unease with Aston Villa’s precarious situation, after their substandard display against WBA in the West Midlands derby left me wondering if the specter of relegation was beginning to loom over Villa Park.
Unsurprising, I faced a furious backlash from disgruntled supporters, who were displeased that I dared to suggest this season could end in relegation heartbreak.
However, my article was born out of genuine concern for the club, not an attempt to provoke their supporters.
Fast-forward to this morning, and the EPL table tells a grim story. With almost a third of the season completed, Villa sit 18th with only nine points, and, as we know, the table never lies.
The recent second half capitulations against the two Manchester clubs—the type of which you’d normally see from English batsmen in India—should set the alarm bells ringing. Yes, Villa played well in spells during both games, but shipping goals normally sends clubs on a collision course with relegation to The Championship.
Therefore, I am sure even the most hardened supporter has thrown an envious glance towards the Hawthorns.
I believe their blueprint for success is something Paul Lambert should seriously consider replicating. WBA are tough to breakdown, scrooge-like at home and have a sprinkling of flair to unsettle opposition defences.
Aston Villa are more like a kindly aunt at Christmas, dishing out defensive presents to grateful strikers, before falling asleep during the second half of Home Alone 2.
The next few weeks have become of seismic importance to the club.
Upcoming games against Arsenal (H), Reading (H), QPR (A) and Stoke City (H) could make or break their season. Nothing less than three wins should be deemed acceptable by the passionate Villa Park patrons.
Defeat against their relegation rivals will mean the daunting, but very real, prospect of having to pick up points at Anfield, Old Trafford and The Emirates—a scenario that leaves even the most ardent fan feeling faint.
Now, I am not one to advocate pressing the panic button this early, but there is a fine line between optimism and realism.
Aston Villa, despite being one of the founder members of the football league, have no right to play in the Premier League—they have to earn their place like everybody else.
I know Aston Villa supporters will say that I am just being unnecessarily antagonistic again, but I am merely assessing the situation rationally.
It is essential for everybody at the club to weigh up optimism with realism ahead of Saturday’s game against free-scoring Arsenal.