Why Aston Villa shouldn't fear 'month of death'

Although they line up against Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea in April, strugglers should be confident.


If you need a manager who will put a positive spin on his own chances of defying the odds, few candidates will prove as adept as Tim Sherwood.

But even the Aston Villa boss will have a tough time of talking his way out of an ominous sounding fixture list for the beleaguered club's final run-in.

Most immediately, a trip to Sunderland and a visit from Swansea City doesn't sound too overwhelming, but their run of games over April would be intimidating for any side in the division.

Trips to Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City lie in wait, with all three sides caught up in the Champions League chase - and unlikely to be able to afford a slip up.

The only brief respite is provided by facing QPR at Villa Park, in a battle of the league's two most under-performing units.

May is only marginally better for Sherwood's troupe, with visits from Everton and West Ham United, and a trip to Southampton, to contend with.

Of their remaining ten fixtures, six are against top half sides, and four are away from home.

But this should actually be a cause for optimism, not pessimism, among the Villains, for their record this season is actually better when facing stronger opposition - particularly on the road.

If the Premier League, for reasons unknown, were organised by each side's form when visiting a member of the top half, Villa would rank seventh, placing above Arsenal.

In these games, where the pressure is presumably off, the side has taken 1.17 points per match on average. That would work out as around five points from four matches over outfits some might choose to write them off.

By contrast, when going to a side in the bottom half, Villa have the second-worst record, taking just four points from a possible 24.

If Villa can adjust their form while taking on sides around them - particularly against doomed Burnley on the final day of the season, and QPR earlier - and continue the former, recording remarkable results against tougher teams, then Sherwood's convictions of glory will be proven.

Over to you, Tim.

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch