The first of Aston Villa’s ’12 cup finals’ ended in defeat at the weekend, as the 2-1 loss away to out of form Arsenal saw the club drop into 18th position in the Premier League, level on points with Wigan who moved up to 17th after their 3-0 victory over Reading.
It was a good performance from Villa, but with only 11 games remaining until the season finishes, and champions Manchester City next on the fixture list, Villa are running out of time to keep their elite status in English football.
Villa’s defence has been their weakness all season, and as Ron Vlaar had to pull out of the match due to an injury picked up in training during the week, it was down to the youth of Nathan Baker and Ciaran Clark to steady the very leaky ship.
After going into the last 10 minutes of the game at a deserved 1-1 scoreline, it was their lack of composure and experience that was the story once more, as they edged closer and closer to goalkeeper Guzan in desperate hope of securing the draw.
It has been the story for Villa all season, as goals conceded in the last 15 minutes of games have seen them lose out on several points; points which would have seen them comfortably in mid table at this point.
Paul Lambert was full of praise for his team after the game, and still believes his side has what it takes to survive in the Barclays Premier League.
While Lambert and his players may be confident of survival, the fans are less so. With 11 games left to go in the season, Scotsman Lambert has declared that Villa will need another five wins from those games to secure safety. After 27 games of the season so far, only five have finished as victories for the Midlands team, and if the previous 10 games of last season are added to that statistic, it becomes 5 wins from 37 games. That form would suggest there is only one outcome for Villa come the end of the season, and that is relegation to the Championship.
With Manchester City next to play, and Liverpool and Chelsea also set for a trip to Villa Park, as well as tough away fixtures at Stoke and Manchester United, it is very hard to see where Villa will now earn those points they so desperately need.
Time and time again this season, Aston Villa have lost their must-win games, and whether that is down to a lack of experience, or even a lack of talent within the squad, the only result it will leave is a lack of Premier League status come the end of the campaign.
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