One of the founders of the English Premier League, Aston Villa, are in danger of losing their proud status in the English top flight. One of the oldest professional clubs in England, being one of the founding clubs of the Football League back in 1888, the Villains are also one of the most successful in English football. They have the fourth highest total of major awards of all English clubs (20) but success has not come their way for a long time now, and with a run of terrible form over the festive period, they could be on the brink of collapsing into relegation.
Aston Villa, who are owned by American Entrepreneur Randy Lerner (former owner of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns) have endured a tough end to December, draining them both in the goal difference department and in confidence. Under the guidance of Paul Lambert, Villa have slipped to just one place above the drop zone, but it has been the nature of their defeats which has been the hardest pill to swallow for the dedicated fans of the Villains. After showing some promise of survival in a five match unbeaten streak, in the space of seven days they have collapsed to epic proportions.
Villa secured a tremendous 3-1 win away at Anfield against Liverpool on December 15, despite only having around 30% of possession in the match. But then, just before Christmas, Lambert’s men went to visit Stamford Bridge to take on a Chelsea side who hadn’t won in their last four home matches in the Premier League. After just three minutes Villa were behind in the match and Chelsea went on to record a massive 8-0 win, knocking the Christmas stuffing out of Villa. But for manager Paul Lambert there was even worse to come.
Back on home soil on December 26, Villa were holding another top four side, Tottenham to a goalless draw at half time. But four goals from Spurs in the second half saw Villa crash again and just three days later they were again on the end of a 3-0 hammering, this time against relegation threatened Wigan Athletic, at Villa Park. Back to back home defeats are hard to take, but conceding so many without response makes it even worse. The mistakes early on in the game against Wigan, who were in desperate form themselves, frustrated
In their last three league games, Villa have conceded fifteen goals without reply. Four of their last five matches they have failed to score in. After their big collapses recently, they now have the league’s worst goal difference, something which could be crucial come the end of season run in, and Villa don’t look to have the goals in them to overcome that. Aston Villa have scored at a rate of just 0.75 goals per game this season in the English top flight. In stark contrast, Villa have had a great run to the semi finals of the League Cup, how they would trade that now for a turnaround in league form.
But perhaps the biggest problem for Aston Villa is how they muster up any response from the young squad they have at their disposal. After three games of the new season, Aston Villa had an averaging starting age of just 25.9 years for their starting lineups this season. One of the three lowest in the league. For the kick off on the weekend against Wigan, it was down to an average age of 23, largely because of injury to more senior players. It is something which is not going to work in their favour, as they youthful set up will be feeling the bitter blows they have suffered much harder than seasoned professionals who have gone through the ringer.
Will the January transfer window be able to offer any salvation to Villa’s Premier League status? According to Lambert, spending big next month is not one of his priorities as the club are in an “absolute fight” to stay up. Lambert is taking everything on his shoulders though, taking sole blame for his side’s demise. After the defeat against Wigan, home support started filtering out of the ground when the third goal from the visitors went in on the 56th minute, and those faithful who remained in the stands booing the home side to the final whistle.