If the second half of the season can live up to the levels of the first, then Villa fans are in for a treat and potentially even a trophy. With Premier League football on a mini hiatus, here are Five Reasons to be Cheerful as Villa fans:
Villa began the new year with the press announcement that from next season onwards, Adidas will be supplying the club shirts replacing the sweaty Castore offering. The deal is supposedly an improvement and should help Villa make the first steps to gaining some ground with the wealthiest six clubs, whose revenue currently dwarfs that of Villa’s. In terms of the kit design, a lot will depend on how bespoke the Villa kit will be. Adidas are known to put more effort into some club kits than others, so hopefully the unveiling in the summer will please more fans than the more recent kit launches did. Hopefully, it won’t look like a West Ham kit.
The game was dull, the subsequent draw wasn’t kind, but Villa finally made it out of the FA Cup third round for the first time in years. Hallelujah. Another hoodoo crushed by Emery (at the second time of asking but we won’t mention last season’s exit) and a chance to win a third straight match at Stamford Bridge in the fourth round.
While it’s certainly not a priority for the season, a win at Chelsea might start to add more spice to the FA Cup for Villa fans, once again.
With 21 games played, Aston Villa sit in 4th place with an eight point gap ahead of 6th placed West Ham. The intrigue of the potential fifth Champions League spot this season could still add some late drama across the European competitions, but all in, the season has gone remarkably well.
The recent break from football should serve Villa’s players well as the performances since the Manchester City and Arsenal started to tail off. Villa’s following matches include home ties against Newcastle, Manchester United, Sheffield United, Fulham and Nottingham Forest; all teams that Villa failed to beat in the first half of the season apart from Fulham. A marked improvement in fortunes is needed this time around.
Some of the teams around Villa have lost significant players to the international tournaments taking place this month. Tottenham losing, arguably, their best player as are Liverpool. This could give Villa the edge in creating a larger buffer between itself and the chasing North Londoners. Villa only have Traoré missing, a player that Emery suggested could be on the way out this window should a suitable offer arrive.
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With the Kosta Nedeljković announcement Villa marked the first transfer of the January window. Strong links to two other players have been rumoured by the more reliable members of the Twitterati, all of which point to a return to the pre-Gerrard approach of signing talented prospects, rather than older established players on higher wages.
While the new signing will only join in the summer, it’s food for thought for Villa’s current right-backs (including the returning Kaine Kesler-Hayden), who may find themselves on borrowed time if consistency isn’t achieved come May.
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