There was some strange behaviour reported around north Birmingham on Tuesday night.
People shouted, but without using the words ‘overpaid’, ‘useless’ or ‘c***s’ and in a way that didn’t require laying siege to the team bus. Some eye-witnesses even described it as something akin to joy, but no-one was sure as it had been so long since anyone had experienced it.
Other reports told of highly unusual facial expressions. ‘Kind of like an angry scowl, but … upside down. I don’t know what it’s called. Teeth were showing. Well, in a lot of cases the space where teeth should be was showing,’ one bemused man described as he walked away from Villa Park.
That summary of events of is obviously facetious, but after a wait of 157 days, Villa finally claimed a league win. The second of a terrible Premier League campaign and just the fourth win if we include the vague solace that is a run to the last 16 of the Capital One Cup.
The win over a high-flying Crystal Palace gives Villa a huge lift, particularly as it wipes the smug smile off Alan Pardew’s face for a short time at least. But is that light at the end of the tunnel or a train coming in Villa’s direction, followed by a North Korean test missile, followed by a herd of rampaging elephants, followed by another train? Looking back over the history of the Premier League and comparing Villa’s situation, there’s one conclusive answer.
The sad news for Villa fans is that the relief may be fleeting. Going through the records of teams at the bottom of the Premier League at this stage of the season, Villa aren’t in the worst situation, but they are in a worse position than the average on almost all metrics.
- Their win on Tuesday moved them on to 11 points. That’s still 3.5 behind the average of around 14.5
- They’ve scored 17 goals, that’s about average for teams at the bottom of the table, despite the stick they’re getting for showing all the attacking acumen of a sedated koala
- At eight points from safety, they’re further adrift than the average of deficit 5.5 points but better than the 13 Sunderland had to claw back in the 2005-06 season
Villa are marginally worse off than the average in a number of categories: defeats (14 v 12.7); wins (2 v 2.9); goals scored (17 v 17.8) and marginally better off in terms of goals conceded (37 v 39.1), but the major issue for Villa is how open the league has been.
With the relegation battlers regularly depantsing the big boys, it means they are further away from safety than 17 of the 23 teams in this position in other seasons. For example, in 2004-05 West Brom were only one point better off than Villa with 12 points, but they were just five points from safety thanks to the condensed nature of that season’s relegation mud-wrestle.
Teams at the bottom of the league at this stage of the season end up going down 83% of the time. That leaves 17% of occasions when they pull off the great escape – unlikely but not quite in ‘as impossible as Taylor Swift ever finding love’ territory. Plus, in the last four seasons, three of the teams at the bottom at this point in the campaign managed to survive. Yaaaayyy! There is hope.
It’s Down To The Numbers
Sadly for Villa however, that was deliberately trying to manufacture a silver lining on a bag of dog feces. Wigan, Crystal Palace and Leicester engineered stunning revivals in that period, so – like pretending David Bowie was a massive influence on your life – it’s very much in fashion. But the largest deficit in those successful survivals was three points and the largest deficit successfully overturned in Premier League history was the four points the Baggies managed in 2005. Essentially, that’s statistics pulling down their pants and waving a hairy crack at any hopes of survival.
Can the Villains be in fur more good news against the Foxes?
Hunt down the latest odds here
Clearly, if Villa are to avoid the drop, they need to make history. This team has occasionally looked like being record-breakers, but not for any of the good records. Remi Garde’s first win in charge may instill some badly needed belief, but that needs to roll on to generate most likely about nine or 10 wins in the remaining 17 games.
Those prospects immediately look a bit shaky with the visit of Leicester to Villa Park. With just one win in five games, the Foxes are going through a comparatively rocky period in their dream season, but those stats hide the fact that run included a draw against Manchester City, a win and a draw at White Hart Lane and a narrow defeat away to Liverpool. And if that wasn’t enough, they still boast the Premier League’s best away record and only goal difference denies them top spot in the league.
- Six of Leicester’s seven away wins this season (and 10 of their 12 wins overall) have featured over 2.5 goals and it’s a shot they do it again on Saturday evening.
A win for Villa against their Midlands rivals is unlikely, but not out of the question at odds of . Even if that happens however, the relief is likely to only to be temporary. At odds of , the stats tell us that next season, they will be Remi-niscing about their years in the top flight as they plan a road trip to Preston.