Tim Sherwood has revitalised Aston Villa since taking over
By Alex McMahon
Since the appointment of Tim Sherwood as manager, Aston Villa have climbed the league table and now stand an extremely good chance of staying in the Premier League. The former Tottenham Hotspur boss has guided the Midlands outfit to 16th in the division after winning their last two league games, while beating West Bromwich Albion 2-0 in the FA Cup quarter-finals to set up a Wembley clash with Liverpool/Blackburn. With just nine leagues games remaining, we take a look at some of the reasons why Sherwood’s ‘simple’ side will avoid relegation to the Championship this campaign.
They have the momentum
Villa are the only side in the bottom half of the table to win their last two league matches and, although they have some work to do before they secure their Premier League status next year, they are currently the ‘in-form’ team at the bottom. Crucially, the two sides Villa have beaten – West Brom and Sunderland – are relegation rivals, and Sherwood was ecstatic to earn victories in both matches. After struggling to score all season, they have found the net eight times in their last three matches and the Villa strikers will be aiming to continue that rate for the remainder of the campaign.
Five of their remaining matches are at home
Since the start of 2015, Villa have played nine matches at Villa Park in all competitions, winning five, drawing one and losing three. Prior to January, the Midlands side had won just two home games all season and their improved home form certainly should encourage supporters ahead of their remaining matches. Villa welcome the likes of Everton, West Ham and Swansea to Villa Park before the end of the year, and will hope these sides are already focused on their holidays after finishing comfortably in mid-table positions.
QPR and Burnley both have to travel to Villa Park
These two matches could be astronomical in the relegation battle and two Villa wins in these fixtures may be all that is needed to guarantee that they feature in the top flight next season. As of 16th March 2015, QPR have won just one match away from Loftus Road all year and the Villans will be confident that they can repeat their 2-0 victory over the Hoops from earlier in the campaign. Meanwhile, Villa will face Burnley on the final day and will remain hopeful that their fate is already settled, but will be grateful that they host the Lancashire outfit if it goes down to the final day.
Tim Sherwood is getting the most out of the players
Under Sherwood, Villa appear rejuvenated and refreshed in attack. He has managed to get the most out of players like Tom Cleverley and Charles N’Zogbia, and his players are thriving in the former Tottenham manager’s new system. Defensively, they are looking relatively solid and, although Sherwood’s philosophy is built on attack, he has ensured that Villa stopped leaking goals while also encouraging his forward thinking players to shoot and attack defenders. It will be interesting to see which players remain at Villa Park for the start of next season, as well as seeing if they invest in the next transfer window too.
Their intensity is back, particularly on the counter attack
Villa have always been an excellent counter-attacking side, filled with pace on the flanks and a focal point in the centre of the attack. For the most part of this season, they have been sluggish on the ball, and haven’t shown the same intent when going forward. In their latest victory over Sunderland, however, they returned to a formidable unit on the break and raced into a 4-0 lead in the opening half. If Villa can continue to find space in the hole behind the strikers and support their strikers with direct wing play, they will score goals and cause problems throughout their remaining games.
Christian Benteke is firing again
Villa’s main striker has started to score again since Sherwood took the helm, and that will certainly help the side to win matches. Benteke scored 34 in 67 matches during his first two years at Villa Park, but has netted just six times all season, with three of those coming in Villa’s last three games. The Belgian forward has regained some confidence and will be a danger to opposing defences in the remaining nine league matches, especially if the likes of Gabriel Agbonlahor, N’Zogbia and Leandro Bacuna continue to produce inviting crosses for the 24-year-old to attack.
Do you think Aston Villa will avoid the drop this year, or do you think they’ll get dragged right back into the relegation battle? Let us know your thoughts below!