Five Reasons to Be Cheerful as Toothless Lions Regain Bite

On the whole, it had been a frustrating few weeks for Villa fans as Manchester United completed the double over Emery’s men, making it the third defeat on the bounce at Villa Park. Despite the squad’s mounting injury list though, Unai Emery and his players refocused and turned their fortunes around in recent games to land in pole position to qualify for the Champions’ League.


While the result hurt, Villa’s turnaround can be pinpointed to their improved performance against United. It’s important to point out that Villa deserved more from this latest defeat. Villa had the better of every statistic except the most important one, and while an improved performance counts for nothing, it provided the roots to victories over both Fulham and Nottingham Forest. These positive displays will hopefully sow the seeds for a momentum shift in 2024, which had started as an anticlimax compared to 2023.

Marathon, Not a Sprint 

Despite the stuttering spell, Villa are now eight points clear of Manchester United with 12 games remaining. Villa aren’t the only team that have had consistency issues in 2024. In the last fortnight, both Spurs and Manchester United have lost home games that they were both expected to win. Those results have been the icing on the cake of recent Villa victories the past two weekends, and a reminder that they don’t have to be perfect as their immediate rivals have their own form and injury issues.


One of football’s clichés is that ‘things balance out over a season’. Overall, I agree, unless we’re talking about the abysmal refereeing decisions and use of VAR, which clearly favours the traditional Sky Six clubs.

During the positive spells of this season, Villa was fortunate to face teams that had key players missing and managed to capitalise. However, recently, the roles have reversed and it is Emery’s team that has missed key players with the balance of the team clearly suffering.

There is hope that Pau Torres will be ok for the trip to Luton (fingers crossed) and Ezra Konsa will at least be back come the visit of Spurs to Villa Park. If both scenarios come to pass, then Villa will have a decent first XI to deal with key games during the March period.

Ajax Draw

While a Villa vs Ajax Europa Conference League final had a very nice ring to it, there was a doubt as to whether this current Ajax team could make it that far. Drawing them in Villa’s first knockout round will certainly focus Villa’s players on the match, when a team of lesser stature may not have, leading to a potential banana skin. It’ll be a good occasion at Villa Park (sensible pricing by the club too) and a decent away day at the cracking Johan Cruyff Arena. Hopefully, a nice taster of more regular big European nights next season.

Emery Factor

It’s all well and good praising managers when things are going well. Of course, Unai Emery has done an excellent job so far and any disappointment felt by fans is a result of his overachievement. Nonetheless, now is his chance to prove his excellence by rebooting this season and securing a top five finish. 

Villa lost three on the bounce last season before launching into an amazing run. There is no reason this can’t happen again and extend the most recent two wins. Emery did it before and he can do it again. 


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