It’s all getting more than a bit nerve-wracking. Villa, while not cut adrift, find themselves needing the three points that West Ham and Watford have finally managed to secure since resuming play. Tonight, it’ll be a tall order getting them against United.
Following the loss to Chelsea, Villa go to St. James Park in what has become about as much of a must-win game as any match can be apart from a final-fixture showdown to avoid relegation.
The focus for a while has been on Villa’s defending. Or lack thereof. Only Southampton and Norwich have conceded as many as us, and we’ve played two fewer. Likewise, goal difference leaves us pretty much in the same neighborhood as Bournemouth, Watford, and West Ham. So we score but we also ship 1.9 per match. Of course everyone wants to know why. What’s Terry doing? What’s Dean not getting right?
It’s taken me a while to get over the Spurs match, but what I take from it is that we can claw out the results we need if we can just show a bit more composure and cut down on the mistakes.
In recent years, I’ve dismissed cup competitions for Villa because we’ve been up against it, and the extra games don’t seem to help survival or promotion. They’re a distraction: fatigue, injury, possible demoralization. The only value has seemed to be in getting minutes in match conditions for players and combinations that don’t start regularly. But tonight’s game is a little different.