Five Reasons To Be Cheerful as Villa Approach 2023 Finale

Five Reasons to be Cheerful as Villans After Poor Christmas Week

Unai Emery will have an important week ahead to regroup and prepare the team for the final game of an otherwise very successful calendar year on the pitch. Here are are five reasons to be cheerful as Villa fans:

Chin Up

Any Villa fan of a certain age knows that being 2-0 up against Manchester United, a game is still far from over. The half-time scoreline at Old Trafford on Boxing Day, flattered a generally lacklustre performance. The second half was an abysmal capitulation, make no mistake, but there is half of a season left to play and Emery will not suffer fools. He will come down hard on the players after that result and demand better standards. This game could prove to be a sliding doors moment; will they grow from it or implode? From his track record, disappointing moments so far in the Emery tenure have tended to result in huge upswings in results.


The manager, players and fans will be equally frustrated after the 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford. Luckily, Villa have the chance to end this fantastic year on a high note at home to Burnley. Villa still hold onto an impressive unbeaten home record, which needs to be extended against 19th placed Burnley on Saturday. Ending the year on a high and in the top four places will give the team a boost heading into a potentially memorable 2024.

Squad Returns

Fans were frustrated at Emery’s lack of substitutions, understandably, but with Pau Torres hopefully returning for the following game at home to Burnley, Villa’s spine will look more familiar and the bench should have more options too. With Kamara, Tielemans and Torres out, Villa lacked any sort of proficiency playing out from the back and maintaining possession against Manchester United. With Torres’ return, Villa will be better in possession, such is the importance of the Spaniard now. 

Cash returning from suspension also provides Emery with more options to adjust the shape of the team in-game, after a poor defensive showing from Carlos and Lenglet in the second half against United. Diaby and Zaniolo can also offer Emery a chance to introduce fresh legs to end the extremely busy Christmas period.

Table Truths

If fans had been shown a league table in August with Villa sitting in third after 19 games then few would have believed it. Of course, the last two results are not ideal but over the course of a season, teams win games they’re not expected to and lose ones that they probably shouldn’t. Villa sit eight points clear of Manchester United, who are still far from convincing despite their win. Newcastle are currently struggling too. Both Arsenal and Spurs also lost this week, in games they perhaps were favourites to win. So, the table still makes for good reading. Newcastle had hairy moments in their assault on the top four last season and they showed the heart and fight to get back on track, Villa must do the same.

Back Under the Radar

After Villa’s defeat against United, it was as if their cloaking device had been switched back on in terms of the national media. For example, an article on the BBC Sport website about the Premier League title race went into deep discussion about Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester City’s chances. Astonishingly, it failed to even mention Villa, despite being third in the table. Villa were only mentioned in the last sentence as an afterthought, when the article added that Opta gave them a mere 2.2% chance of winning the Premier League title.

Now, it’s debatable what their title chances actually are, if they aren’t going to take three points off struggling teams like Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest, or throw away 2-0 leads. But all teams have off days.

While Emery will want to stay in the title race for as long as possible, ultimately though, qualifying for the Champions League would be a huge achievement. Villa are currently well placed for the battle ahead to achieve that, and seemingly with the pressure off them.

Villa showed last season in their late charge for European football, that they are capable of a strong finish to the season. Certainly some transfer activity in January wouldn’t hurt and ultimately maybe needed to crack the top four.

While it may have been a challenging Christmas week for the club, there’s still plenty of fight left in this dog.


Follow Armen on Twitter here – @VillanArmen

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  1. So many positives so far this season. 39 points, 3rd in the league, Villa Park bouncing again, breaking a home win record, still unbeaten at home, beating 4 of the so called super 6 this season already (Chelsea, spurs, Man City and Arsenal). Great season so far and excited for the remaining half

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