Five Reasons to be Cheerful After 4-2 Arsenal Home Defeat
By Armen Mirzoian
Another game and another defeat. The new manager bubble may have burst but there’s still five reasons to remain cheerful, despite a change in fortune at Villa Park.
1. Fine Tuning
With every defeat and unforced error, Emery is seeing further proof of the frailties in the current squad. The mental fragility and lack of leadership without Mings is painfully obvious and something the club will surely address in the summer. Emery has 15 games remaining this season to see, which of the squad are unable to play in his system and as demonstrated in January, he will be ruthless in trimming the fat.
2. V Sports
The acquisition of a 46% stake of Portuguese side Vitoria Guimares might not immediately benefit Villa, but in the long term it suggests that Nassef Sawiris and West Edens are here to stay. Since taking over Villa in 2018, NWSE have convincingly backed their managers in the transfer market. Yet there remains a fear among some fans, that if success isn’t achieved soon their interest and support may diminish.
Ambitious plans for a stadium development in the coming years would suggest otherwise. Furthermore, the billionaire-pair have begun the registration of the Las Vegas Villains in the MLS and with this latest stake in Vitoria, they are demonstrating their focus and commitment to football. Their seedling empire is growing and at the heart of it sits Aston Villa Football Club.
Last week the club announced that former captain Tyrone Mings has extended his contract at the club. The news was well received with fans generally accepting that the first XI is far stronger with Mings in it, despite his occasional ‘lapses’ (to put it mildly). Unfortunately for both Villa and Mings, the new deal was christened with one of the aforementioned ‘lapses’ as the returning centre-back recklessly headed the ball across his box to an opposition player for Arsenal’s first equaliser.
Nonetheless, the news is positive as Villa continue to plan ahead and ensure that their better players remain on long-term deals. Mings joins Konsa, Martinez, Cash, Luiz, Archer and Ramsey in committing his future to the club and suggests a positive approach by the club to ensure players do not leave on the cheap.
£22 Villa Away Shirts
Win, lose or draw, Villa find themselves locked in suspended animation. For months now, Villa have sat in 11th spot teasing fans with the prospect of a top half push, yet even when Villa’s form was good it continued to elude. Now, after three straight defeats Villa still remain in 11th and still only three points from struggling Chelsea.
Villa only have three of the traditional ‘Sky 6’ left to play in the remaining 15 games of the season, so if Emery can start turning decent performances back into wins then there is still hope that a top-half finish is on the cards.
5. Big Phil
With Watkins featuring in the last three weeks of this column it would seem prudent to keep the tradition going as the striker keeps scoring. However, the 60-minute performance of Phillipe Coutinho deserves attention this week. His recent cameos off the bench have impressed fans and Emery alike, as the Spaniard chose to start the Brazilian against Arsenal.
Coutinho continued to look sharp and exquisitely finished off a superb Villa attack. A year on from the fantastic displays against Leeds and Southampton, Coutinho is only just finding his feet again and under the tutelage of Emery, perhaps he can find some consistency and unlock the incredible talent that he possesses. He’ll need to if Villa have any chance of breaking into the top half of the table.