Aston Villa have been written off here, there and everywhere (including on this Blog by the way) as a lost cause this season. After 25 games they have just 16 points – not quite the same level of Derby’s infamous nine point haul at this point in 2008, but it’s worryingly close to the same postcode.
Remi Garde’s men are eight points off the safety of 17th and extending their 104-year run in England’s top-tier. It sounds like a tough ask, particularly with trips to Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City all to come and an attack that has scored just 20 goals this season, and failed to score in 40 per cent of their matches.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for Villa fans. Clearly they’re hardly frolicking in a land of rainbows and lollipops, but there is a brief glimmer of hope in this season of turgid football.
There’s been 20 years of the 20-team Premier League, and four sides have been bottom after 25 games and still survived. Great news right? That’s a 20 per cent success rate. If you wanted to get seriously liberal with stats and use more spin than Shane Warne, you could say that in the last 11 years, four teams who were bottom after 25 games still survived. That’s now a 36 per cent survival rate! Everything is going to be OK! Woooooo!
— Villa Views (@ViewsVilla) January 29, 2016
Don’t forget Leicester only had one more point than Villa do at this stage last season, yet they went on to finish 14th and are now favourites for the league title. If Gabby Agbonlahor could start fuelling the spirit of Jamie Vardy, rather than the spirit of a man who has just been asked a confusing question on Pointless and needs to sneeze, maybe the future is bright.
Unfortunately this glimmer of hope is purely that. And the overriding sense of doom is probably very accurate.
- Eight teams in the last 20 years have been on 16 points or less at this stage of the season – all finished bottom and went down
- Nine sides in the last 20 years have been eight or more points off safety at this stage of the season – all finished bottom and went down
- The average number of points needed to survive in the last 20 years is 38. To get to that magic number, Villa would need to average a mammoth 1.7 points a game from now until the end of the season. So far they’ve been averaging 0.64 points.
What may be the biggest concern for Villa from a statistical point of view is that even a drastic improvement in their results may not be enough. Middlesbrough (1996/97) and Bolton (1995/96) both managed to improve their records in the final 13 games and raised their points per game to 1.54 and 1.23 respectively. Both still ended up going down.
It’s for Aston Villa to avoid relegation this season – and perform what would be the greatest escape in the last two decades of Premier League football. The road to survival takes us to Villa Park on Sunday afternoon when an out-of-sorts Liverpool travel to the Midlands. Villa are to pick up three points on Sunday – something that could potentially put them within five points off Newcastle with a Championship show-down due between the pair in May.
Jurgen Klopp has won just five of his last 18 matches in all competitions at Liverpool and has just one win in six league games. If there’s going to be a revival, it has to start Sunday…