Thoughts and issues regarding the past and present of a great football club by "The Chronicler".

Monday, 9 February 2015

Well, the next 6 games are critical, are they not?

Scoring one goal these days is almost like a win over Man U, is it not? It’s such a rarity.
But if you concede two then the one goal proves to have done nothing more except bring back some hope that we can score. Indeed, with Carles Gil demonstrating impetuous skill at times against the league leaders and also linking well with Delph and Westwood, the old image of hoof football seems to have been put to bed. A possession stat of 51% (against the league leaders!), with a higher proportion than usual actually making inroads to the opponent’s half, seems to indicate that the team still has positive thoughts.

The depressing stat is that even with improved movement there was only one attempt on goal – the goal that was scored. The attackers seemed to think that putting the ball over the bar might gain 3 points, but it was a defender that showed them how. Encore Okore!

It’s this impotency in attack that is now the primary focus. Everyone (not just Lambert) assumed that after Benteke’s return from lengthy injury the goal scoring deficiency would be rectified. Indeed, in his early matches he put three in the net as though he was just warming up, but for whatever reason he has since looked a forlorn figure, generally not doing too much and waiting for someone to put the ball exactly where he wants it. Having been left on the bench this time we found that his replacement, though looking more mobile, also did not have his goal-finding equipment with him. We can look back in fondness to the days when Ashley Young used to measure the perfect centre for Gabby’s head to steer the ball home (a beauty versus Man U comes to mind), but the man seems to have lost that ability. Perhaps Young’s departure sent him into a mourning that he has never recovered from.

So, scoring remains the main crisis issue. And you have to score to win.

The tactic now can either be (a) a return to massive defence with swift counter-attacks, or (b) all-out attack and leave gaps at the back. Even with all-out attack I’m not sure that we know where the net is, so (a) (to me) seems the less risky approach. We simply must win some games.

We now have six games which must constitute the basis of our survival plan:

Feb 10 v. A Hull City
Feb 21 v. H Stoke C
Feb 28 v. A Newcastle U
Mar 3 v. H West Brom
Mar 14 v. A Sunderland
Mar 21 v. H Swansea C

We must have a target of a minimum 12 points from these matches to stand a chance of survival, I suggest – three home wins and three away draws or some other permutation with the same minimum result. Failure to achieve that must surely be curtains for our team. Following these six we have three consecutive away games against Man U, Spurs then Man City: what a thought! But we then have three consecutive home matches against QPR, Everton and West Ham. Finally, after a visit to the Saints we have Burnley at home. Maybe that will be the decider?

Whatever happens, come Summer something up top has to change at Villa Park.

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