Five Reasons to be Cheerful – Crystal Palace
By Armen Mirzoian
Back-to-back wins, back-to-back clean sheets, what’s not to like? Well, it wasn’t too pretty – one shot on target, an OG winner and playing 30 minutes against 10 men. But forget all that, here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Villans…
1. Looking Up
Another week and another win for the Emery regime leaving Villa 12 points clear of the relegation zone with a game in hand, while Chelsea – level on points with Villa – after their win at the weekend, are now just 11 points off a Champions League place. Sky Sports narratives aside, Villa find themselves five points away from high-flying Fulham with a game in hand. On top of that, Brentford have two consecutive away games, giving the sides below a chance to seize on any mis-steps. Brentford are currently in limbo as Toney’s pending ban may land this season, which would surely damage their hopes of a strong finish and benefit the likes of Villa and Chelsea.
The win against Crystal Palace may have been gritty and drab, but it is an underrated result against a side that has recently drawn against in-form Liverpool, Brentford, Brighton, Newcastle and Manchester United. Palace are on a poor run but they are unquestionably difficult to beat so the win was a better one than it perhaps appears.
2. Ten Men Miracle
There was a time under Dean Smith (who was present at the Palace game) when Villa fans would convulse at the thought of playing against 10 men. The three goals conceded to 10-men Watford being a particular recurring nightmare for Villans. But after the home win against Palace, it was refreshing to see Villa break another curse and see out the game after Cheick Doucoré’s second yellow, which ought to have initially been a straight red.
Perhaps fans can now show excitement when the opposition are disadvantaged with a red card rather than curse their luck. Time will tell.
After several years of groundhog day style battles between Manchester City and Liverpool battling for the title, and Fulham and Norwich alternating relegations, it’s worth appreciating what a good season this has been so far. Bar the ridiculousness of a mid-season World Cup, this season has entertained with several battles taking place as we enter the final third.
The title race was a three-horse race until the humiliating annihilation of Manchester United at Anfield, but even as a two-horse race the unexpected leaders have added intrigue. The relegation battle is wide open with six points separating the bottom nine. Finally there is an open chase for the European spaces between the ever-eleventh Villa and up as far as Fulham.
70% off Villa Home Shirts below – Adult £19.50 / Kids £15
4. International Breakage
While Boubacar Kamara’s injury is one that may be felt in two winnable ties against West Ham and Bournemouth, there is some positivity with the timing of it. At the end of the month there is a loathsome international break but it gives both Kamara and Carlos a little bit more time to recover without missing first team action.
Many may disagree, but one thing that Emery is good at is deploying players in new positions and getting a tune out of them. Chambers taking Kamara’s place in the short-term, seems a possibility and it is something that could work with the versatile player having had a successful year in that position for Fulham as their player of the year. Although, it has to be said, Leander Dendoncker maybe the favourite, although there is uncertainty due to his recent absence.
Also, a reminder to fans to always await reliable information on the length of Kamara’s injury, with the usual media muppet journalist spreading information that has been proven wrong time and time again – is it or isn’t it an ankle injury? Make your mind up.
Villa find themselves sixth in the form table since Emery has taken over. That in itself should excite fans for next season especially given the opposition Villa have faced. With seven wins and a draw in twelve matches, it offers fans a good sample size and insight into what lies ahead under Emery. Earlier in the season, Gerrard only faced Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal of the Sky Six sides and managed only two wins from eleven games; further highlighting the incredible change in fortunes since Emery’s appointment.
If Villa want further encouragement to what can happen when you hit upon the right formula, Brentford are unbeaten in 11 Premier League games since Emery took over at Villa.