With matches against Reading and QPR following their encounter with Manchester City, Aston Villa fans might be thinking that the focus will be on those relegation six pointers, with any points against City viewed as a bonus.
However this would be a mistake, as going into the matches with their rivals at the bottom on the back of a hiding would clearly make it all the harder for Villa’s young team to pick up a good result, and taking any points of the champions would see Paul Lambert’s side climb out of the relegation zone.
Even a draw on Monday night would be a huge boost to the side, and give them some momentum going into the Reading match the following weekend. Aston Villa’s side has plenty of talented young players in it, and as such confidence is even more precious commodity amongst their ranks than in other teams full of experienced journeymen.
One or three points against City would put their survival back in their hands going into matches with the only two teams that are currently below them in the league, and a win would mean that Reading couldn’t overtake Villa even if they beat them at the Madejski.
At times this season Villa have been good enough to give anyone a game, beating Liverpool at Anfield and drawing with Arsenal at home. They were also very unlucky to lose to Manchester United when the league leaders came to Villa Park, and have lost out on a slew of points due to late goals against West Brom, Swansea, Everton and Arsenal in recent weeks. How different their season would look if they had won the first three of those games away from home.
City have also experienced loss at a relegation threatened club recently, when they were beaten 3-1 by Southampton, and they have struggled on plenty of occasions away from home this season.
Whilst it might seem like Villa’s key games in the coming weeks are against Reading and QPR, a win against Manchester City could be the defining moment in turning around their season, and they could well produce an upset on Monday if they play at their best.
image: © ell brown