Aston Villa were founded in 1874 which proved to be a vintage year for the history books with Levi Strauss patenting their jeans and the birth of the legendary American entrepreneur, John D Rockefeller Jr.
Villa is a club steeped in tradition being founder members of the Football League in 1888 and the Premier League in 1992, and have remained there ever since. They have won both the First Division Championship and FA Cup seven times and are one of five English clubs to win the UEFA Champions League. In fact, Aston Villa have the fourth highest total of major honours won by an English club, winning 22 in total with the last in 1996. However, recent league results suggest that the good times are not about to return anytime soon. Assuming we ignore the Capital One Cup as I have recently developed an intense dislike for that competition…
If Sunderland has a young squad with an average age of 26, Villa’s must almost be embryonic at just over 24 years. Certainly with players such as Albrighton, Benteke and Bannen they have the potential of youth, but one may question if it will be given time to flower with the Villans currently languishing in 17th place with only one victory in nine games. They cannot even rely upon their most experienced players such as Hutton, Dunne and Pertov, who are all yet to play a game this season and Given’s goalkeeping career seems to be failing fast. Even the most potent English striker after Rooney, namely Darren Bent, is seemingly out of favour with Villa boss Paul Lambert. Surely Aston Villa are there for the taking and 3 easy points beckon… but then, their next opponents are Sunderland.
During his four years managing Villa, Martin O’Neill achieved a 42% win rate from 190 games, compared to his current career low of 37% with Sunderland. O’Neill has a reputation for dancing around his technical area like a demented leprechaun, but so far this season the Black Cats have given him little to get excited about. Their inability to score goals is well documented, being the lowest scorers in all four English divisions. A goal-fest is as likely as a hot sunny day on Roker beach in November, as the Wearsiders have only once scored more than one goal in their last 22 Premier League clashes with Villa. Certainly ex-Villans Carlos Cuellar and Craig Gardner need no added incentive to do well, but following Sunderland’s mid week Capital One Cup disaster, another reverse will have the same impact upon team morale as the Grim Reaper making an unwelcome visit to a plague victim.
The pressure is on Sunderland and the honeymoon period is certainly over for O’Neill, based on recent comments on the fans message boards and chat rooms. Unfortunately, the omens are not good as Sunderland haven’t beaten the Villans at home since 2002 and this wont improve if they keep playing high balls to a forward line that includes Sessengnon, as he has all the heading ability of the seven dwarfs. However, unlike previous match reviews I wont dwell on tactics and formations as I feel that confidence, or the lack of it, is the key component. If the Black Cats take the lead we may see a different team, but if Villa score first then the atmosphere in the Stadium of Light will become more ugly that a bad taste Halloween party.
So in the words of the popular dance pop song by D:Ream, ‘things can only get better’ and I pray that the Mackems don’t leave the pitch being treated like “Villains” by the fans. So, I’m going for a home win – assuming we can score a goal of course.
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