Five Reasons to be Cheerful – Post Hammers/Pre Cherries
By Armen Mirzoian
With twelve games remaining, Villa embody the term ‘mid table’ with thankfully no chance of being dragged into the relegation scrap while sitting in a comfortable 11th in the table. Villa fans can still see a lot to play for and hopefully the players are of a similar mindset. The club feels settled for the time being but, as ever, here are five reasons to be cheerful after an entertaining draw at West Ham.
1. Fulham Slide
Villa fans have a lot of reasons to be thankful towards Fulham. Not only did the Championship Play-Off final loss to them see off our fraudulent previous owner and the inept Steve Bruce, but as recently as this season, Villa’s defeat at Craven Cottage proved to be Gerrard’s last ride. An awkward coach ride at that.
Since Villa’s only realistic aim for the remainder of the season is to finish in the top half; Fulham’s slide from nearing the top four to plummeting down to ninth suggests they are the prime target of Villa’s ascent from the purgatory of 11th. With a game in hand, Villa remain four points away from the London side and with Chelsea, Brentford and Brighton finding recent form, Fulham have a target on their head.
2. Kamara Misinformation
The world of the media muppets never ceases to amaze and amuse. In the aftermath of the Kamara injury, Villa fans were left biting their nails while awaiting credible information on the extent of the damage emerged. Despite many examples to the contrary, fans and twitter Villa news accounts decided to trust the very specific misinformation of a particular ‘journalist’.
Fans were told that Kamara would miss over a month and miss a very specific ‘5 of the remaining 13 games at least’. However, Emery’s press conference poured water on the make-believe sources of the ‘journalist’ by insinuating that Kamara had a chance to make the Bournemouth squad. Logically, it may be prudent to give Kamara the international break to fully recover but thankfully he appears to have got off lightly despite the fictitious journalism misleading fans for a scoop.
3. The Ram and Archer
No, this isn’t the name of a new pub opening as part of the Villa Park redevelopment, but instead a look at an excellent loan spell for Aaron Ramsey and Cameron Archer. Despite the draw against Stoke, Middlesborough are on course to overtake an out of form Sheffield United side in the automatic play-off spaces.
Boro fans have lauded recent performances of both Villa youngsters, who have become regular starters for Michael Carrick. A promotion season would prove to be an excellent experience for both and hopefully leave them with a place in Emery’s plans for his first full season.
Tim Iroegbunam is another that has impressed in the Championship despite QPR’s dip in-form. It’s a delight to see Villa’s young talent flourishing in a very difficult division and ensuring they arrive back with more maturity in the men’s game.
4. Cherry on Top
Despite some accomplished performances in recent weeks against Liverpool and Arsenal, Villa have to look at the upcoming home tie against Bournemouth as a real opportunity. If there is any hope of one day vacating the 11th spot that has become home, then matches at home against sides in the relegation zone should be seen as ‘must-win’. Given the Cherries have beaten Villa once this season, there is no doubt that it will not be a straight-forward win but it is nonetheless one in which Emery will be expecting ample possession and three points. A win may not get Villa into the top half since Chelsea are hosting Everton, but it brings the other sides closer should they drop points.
5. Villa Ladies
With the men’s side having limited potential to turn the season into a glorious success, the Villa ladies’ team has grown from strength to strength this season. Having won the last four competitive games (one on penalties), Villa sit in 5th spot with a comfortable gap between them and Everton in 6th.
With an FA Cup home tie against Manchester City in their sights, the Villa ladies continue to attract more fans by offering a superior product to last season with some of the league’s more talented players joining this season and performing very well. Continual improvement indeed!