Villa’s title credentials may be weak but they are capable of doing a Leicester | Football News

It was a game Aston Villa should have won but it’s not the end of the world for them. Over a 38-game Premier League season, these slip-ups happen often. There is no guarantee that a lesser side will always lose to a title contender. Heading into the Sheffield United game, Villa had great motivation for sure. A win on Friday would have put them top of the table for a day at least and for the first time since January 8, 1999 after at least 18 games into a season.

Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey celebrates scoring a disallowed goal (REUTERS)

And there were indications they were not going to disappoint their fans having beaten Brentford and title contenders Arsenal and Manchester City in their previous three games in the league.

Wrap up the year gone by & gear up for 2024 with HT! Click here

And then they were against bottom-dwellers Sheffield United… a side that had conceded the maximum number of goals this season. And Villa were playing at home. They had not lost their last 15 Premier League matches there, a club record for them.

For many, three points were there for the taking for Villa. But during the match, things panned out in an unexpected manner, and at one point it appeared they were going to lose the contest with only few minutes left on the clock. Nicolo Zaniolo, however, came to Villa’s rescue in injury time and both sides left the Villa Park with a point each.

One way of looking at things is how Villa missed out on a great opportunity. Arsenal and Liverpool had yet to play their game. On Saturday, they too played out a 1-1 draw which can be expected between two title contenders. Which means a win on Friday would have put Villa on top at Christmas. That would have been something. The other way of looking at things is how at one stage they appeared to lose all three points but Zaniolo’s goal spared their blushes. A draw is a not win but the way Villa earned it… it was heroic. It was a big statement of intent. That they were determined to get something out of it.

The Premier League table at the Christmas break looks extremely tight. As many as five teams are in title contention with just six points separating leaders Arsenal (on 40 points) and fifth-placed Manchester City (on 34 points). Of these five sides (Liverpool, Villa and Tottenham Hotspur being the other three), only City have played one game fewer at 17. Villa, who are third on the table behind Liverpool on goal difference, should be given credit for what they have done so far. It’s not a fluke. It’s their hard work. Many football experts in the United Kingdom are not giving them the credit they deserve. Some believe Villa will even struggle to finish in the top-4 eventually, forget winning the title!

Villa manager Unai Emery, since his appointment in October last year, however, has shown he likes to take the bull by the horns. He has been fantastic, and there is no reason why he can’t continue inspiring his bunch of players till the end of the campaign and even win the trophy.

Villa now travel to Manchester United on Boxing Day, and while the Red Devils will be tipped as favourites in other seasons, this time around they have been having a horrid time. The Manchester club is totally in turmoil, having lost 8 games out of their 18 so far. From their last four matches, including one in the Champions League, Erik ten Hag’s men have gained just one point. Against such an opposition, Emery’s men will fancy their chances. Twice in December, they have felled big giants and title contenders like City and Arsenal, so an undesired result against Sheffield should not be held against them.

Leicester City won the league out of nowhere in 2015-16 and this year in Spain, Girona, a club appearing in the top flight just for the fourth time, has been keeping up with powerhouse Real Madrid, only behind them on goal difference. So there are enough examples in recent times to take inspiration from for Villa! Besides, they have not won the Premier League, not even once, and that should keep them motivated down to their last game. The draw against Sheffield doesn’t define them in any way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *